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Filtering by Tag: pictures

FROM THE OUTSIDE

Cindy Maddera

I took the small square, slightly faded prints from the trip we took to Hawaii when I was six or seven. We must have made that trip soon after Janell had famously cut off all her hair because in the pictures, she sports a mop of close cropped jagged hair. All these years later and my mother will tell anyone who will listen how Janell had the most beautiful hair until she took a pair of scissors to it and ruined it. In the Hawaii pictures, the both of us are all arms and legs. At any given day of the trip, you will see one or the both of us wearing American Airlines T-shirts. There are blurry pictures of us standing in front of giant banyan trees or hamming it up on the beach. My swimsuit is the swimsuit my sister wore the summer before. I know this because I also have the small square print of the two of us playing in the rain. Janell is wearing that green swimsuit with the yellow ruffled top that I am wearing in the Hawaii pictures. 

We look happy. We look like we are having the best time. I remember having the best time. Vaguely. I remember in that foggy way that memories come back to you. There is one exception to our happiness. In every single picture that my mother appears in, she looks miserable. She doesn't even pretend to smile. Janell and I stand grinning with wide cheesy smiles while my mother stands just to the side with a look of pure annoyance on her face as if she'd rather be any where else but there. This is the first time I've come across pictures from that trip. In all the rounds of cleaning out the old house, I never looked through half of the rubber-made tubs of pictures. I didn't even realize pictures of that trip existed and now I almost wish that my foggy memories where the only mental photographs I had of that trip. 

So many of us tell our stories in pictures now. We are all peeping at each other's lives through a different kind of window, but it is no different than before. We still only see the life the other wants you to see. I only show the good moments with the idea that you just know that every moment of every day doesn't all look like that. It is harder to tell the whole truth of the story about ourselves. No one thinks to pick up the camera when their day has just fallen to pieces. I see more of this truth in the picture I take every day for my 365 day project mostly because I don't have the energy to do otherwise. Maybe that's why mother made no effort to hide her unhappiness in those vacation photos. After keeping track of two young girls, carting all the things that mother's end up carrying around with them, and putting up a man she was so unhappy with she was just too tired to pretend to smile or look like she was enjoying herself.

I remember a time when I didn't have to pretend for a photo, when I didn't need all kinds of energy for smiling and grinning. 

 

WHAT'S GOIN' ON

Cindy Maddera

I spent the weekend at my Mom's with my brother and sister-in-law. Our Mother's Day Weekend activities included a Tabouleh Festival in Bristow, where I was surprised to discover that there used to be a large Lebanese community. I was also surprised to find only one source of tabouleh and that one booth had a super long line. We left the the tabouleh festival without tabouleh, which was disappointing because we had planned to have tabouleh with dinner later that evening. So we left the Tabouleh Festival and headed over to a German festival. This was less festival and more 'pay us some money to enter our raffle so you can win this quilt covered in elephants'. We did have a beer and a pretzel. We did not win the raffle. At least I don't think any one of us did.

We left the German Festival and I said "now what?" Katrina, my sister-in-law, looked at her phone and said "there's a Latin Festival." This would have been almost perfect except we all decided that were all festivaled out and that maybe we should just go to the liquor store. That's what we did, but then we got distracted by plants on the way back to Mom's house. So now I have a hanging basket of pretty flowers that I don't know the name of. Then we spent the rest of the evening eating pizza, drinking gin and sorting through boxes of old photos. I came home with a pile of old pictures and a letter to Santa Claus my Dad had dictated to his mother in 1945. Dad had requested a bow and six arrows and a Buck Rogers gun. He also asked for some other things, but those were my favorites. 

I got home Sunday afternoon and then Josephine started puking her guts out. The two of us did very little sleeping Sunday night because of it. She puked in my bed. She puked in her bed. She had to go outside several times. She couldn't get comfortable. She was one sick puppy but not in a psycho kind of sick puppy way. I kept my cool and waited it out, but seriously was this close to panicking and rushing her to an emergency vet so I could spend half a million dollars for them to tell me that she just ate something bad. She's fine. I still have no idea what she got into except maybe all the grass she's been eating in the backyard. I stayed home with her on Monday so I could wash all the stuff she'd puked on and monitor her health. She was pretty mopey until I got the vacuum out. Then she mustered enough energy to attack the vacuum and I knew we were in the clear. 

Any way. I am home and things are returning back to some kind of normal. 

2017 IN PICTURES

Cindy Maddera

As I was putting together this year's picture video, I couldn't help but notice how different this year looked compared to last. I travelled a whole lot in 2016 and not so much in 2017. The result is that my pictures include more faces of the framily I'm building in KCMO. I like this a whole lot. In 2017, we all watched as our friend Charles became an ordained priest. We marched for women and we marched for science. We camped and added a lot of stamps to our National Parks Passport. We added new framily members. We witnessed a total eclipse. The Cabbage turned seven and got her ears pierced. Politically this year sucked, but personally, this year was pretty good to us. 

Next year will bring new adventures and new joys, but right now I'm going to be grateful for the adventures and joys of 2017. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other day I was looking for a particular picture in my Instagram feed. I ended up scrolling all the way to very bottom of my feed, all the way back the very first picture I posted on May 5th 2012. Chris had been dead for three months. My hair was long. A few days later in my feed, is a picture of Hooper. Scrolling up from the first picture, you can watch my life unfold as I deal with grief and live a life of a single woman. I lose weight and buy new shorts. I eat salads out of serving bowls. I visit Talaura in New York. I cut off all my hair, back to my normal self. I visit Chad and Jess in Atlanta. I spend my first Christmas with out Chris and with out Hooper because by this time I've had to say goodbye to him too. There's a picture of my luggage all stacked up in the living room with the caption of "home". I came back from Oklahoma that year to a truly empty house. 

As the next year scrolls along, you see me go to Lindsay's wedding and not so much catching the bouquet, as picking it up from the floor. I get my first mammogram. Various friends and family members visit and then I go to Amy's wedding. By this time, I've met Michael but he doesn't show up in my Instagram feed for over a month and then he becomes a regular appearance along with the Cabbage. Eventually Josephine shows up in the feed, so tiny and then Albus. I forgot about how he was such a tiny little kitten when he came to us. There are plenty of pictures of my travels alone, but just as many pictures of our travels together. At some point in there you see a shift in the quality of my images. My Instagram feed starts to look a little nicer. I don't know if that's just me making an effort or a reflection of my life becoming a little nicer. 

The next thing I'm going to tell you might sound a little selfish, but one of the things I love about my Instagram feed is that it does not include Chris. I started the account after Chris died. Sure, there are pictures of places where I have left Chris over the years, but there are not any picture of Chris being silly or looking at me in the way he used to look at me. It does not bring me physical pain to scroll through these images, which is not the case for some of the other places I store images. It's not that I don't want to remember that time. I have pictures of Chris and I up in my (our) house now. I just don't want to drag myself through all of it every time I want to look up an old picture. But also, my Instagram feed is a testimony to my resilience and strength. It tells me that there is life after Chris and I am thankful for this reminder. I am also thankful for all of the good things I see in that feed. 

I have a good life and that's something to be thankful for. I am also thankful for you. 

MY RIGHT EYE JUST FELL OFF ON MY KNEE

Cindy Maddera

It has happened more than twice in a period of one week. I find myself scrolling through my pictures, looking for something in particular, and instead end up lost. You know when I say that I should be more organized? What I am really saying is that I should have my photographs better organized. I don't tag anything or name anything or put anything into albums. The best I can do is try to remember what year I uploaded the picture. Good luck with that. So, there I am, rolling through page after page of pictures. My life moves backwards in a blur. Memories flashing by like a flip book. Sometimes I linger over one, but often I zip on by.

There's a small box on the bookshelf that contains some keepsakes. Old pictures. Christmas cards. For some reason I can't seem to toss the Christmas card that have family pictures on them. I was still looking for a certain picture when I opened that box. The picture I was looking for was not there, but instead I found pictures from our college days. There was one of Jen when we'd dolled her up for homecoming because she'd been in the running for homecoming queen. There was Amy and Chris and maybe Jen sitting at a table in the snack bar with their arms stretched out overhead as they all did their best impression of a snail. It was during one of those late night study sessions. I noticed a few snapshots from the UFO trip. Then there was a stack of wedding photos. God...we were so young and ridiculous. 

The next thing I know, I find myself scrolling through Chris's flickr feed. I don't even know why. I wouldn't find the picture I was looking for there. There is no reason for me to be looking at this space. I scroll through anyway. There are so many pictures of Chris because of all the 365 day projects. I watch him lose weight, gain weight, lose more weight. Occasionally there is a picture of him and Traci and it makes me wince. I still feel responsible, guilty, like I ruined it all for the two of them. I am sorry Traci. For what, I am not even sure I have words for. I am sorry even though deep down I know know know that I have nothing to be sorry for. Eventually I make it all the way back in his flickr feed when he is still wearing glasses. I remember how long it took me to get used to him without them after his eye surgery. Now it seems so odd to see him wear them. 

I am picking at scabs. That is what this is. It is a canker sore on the inside of my lip that I constantly poke with the tip of my tongue. It is because I have started writing a little bit here and there on an old story. A story no one will really want to read, but one I am afraid to forget. Also I am filling up with words. Their sharp edges are starting to poke me from the inside. I burp letters. Finding the time to do this seems impossible. I imagined the other day getting on the train and riding it to St. Louis or Chicago. I'd just get on the train with my laptop and sit and write while the country passes by. No distractions. No cleaning up after others. No demands or grabs for my attention. Nothing except for the occasional glance out the window. I'd get to the end of the line and just turn around and come back. I mentioned this idea to a friend at work. I said I'd get on the train with just my laptop and she said "and write!" before I could finish my own sentence. 

Maybe she could see the jagged edges of all the words poking out of me. Maybe it just seems obvious that I have stories weighing me down. 

PRINTS

Cindy Maddera

Back in the days before digital, we printed out our pictures, kids. We had to! It was the only way to see them. You put this little roll like thing called "film" into a camera and each roll of film let you take like 24 shots or something like that and you never new how your pictures where going to turn out until you got them back from the photo lab at the local Walmart. As a result, my mother's house was full of boxes and boxes of pictures of total crap images. Pictures of thumbs. Unrecognizable landscapes. Blurry. Half a picture bleached out. We had boxes full of these kinds of pictures, but that was just how it was. There was no editing or choosing before print. Also, film and printing didn't seem all that cheap at the time. Getting a roll of film developed was a bit of a luxury. 

As a kid, I was well aware of the cost and hassle of printing a roll of film. Being aware of all of that made me really choosy about taking a picture. So choosy that I often wouldn't even take a picture. My mom would send me to camp with a camera and couple of rolls of film and I'd come home with twelve shots left on the original roll of film. During all the 4-H years, they liked you to include pictures in your record books. Every time I went somewhere or did something 4-H, mom would once again send me with the camera and several rolls of film. Still I'd come home with empty rolls of film. My mother would beg me to take pictures. Yes. There was a time when I had to be forced to pick up a camera and use it. That all changed for me with digital technology, where you can take as many first pancake pictures as you want or need to get the one right picture. Now, the only reason I have a cell phone is for the camera.

Digital is an anti-hoarder's wet dream. It means I can have tons of pictures piled into multiple places without having the tangible pictures piling up in boxes that I have to store in the basement. The basement is where all things go to die a slow agonizing spiderweb laced death. At the same time though, it's kind of sad. A couple of years ago I vowed to start printing out a few of my pictures every month or so. I hung a bed frame on my wall and clipped a bunch of clips to it to hold pictures. This has worked out well. I admit that I don't print pictures every month, but at least every season, I put a new batch of photos up on the wall. Actually, this year has been a pretty good year for printing out my own photos. Michael's been the one to push for larger prints to put in real picture frames to hang on the wall and it's been a difficult thing for me to do. That's another story though about probably earning more trophies than actually received as a child.

Any way. Printing Photos! Usually, I print my Instagram photos through Walgreens. They keep the square shape and integrity of the original photo. I also like the way the square pictures look on the bed frame. Lately, I've been using VSCO to post my #365 pictures. I just like having one uniform spot for them and I use the same filter for each photo. It's a nice artistic space without the likes and faves and number of views. It's a space for me, not for people to notice me. The other day VSCO sent me a coupon to try out Artifact Uprising. I got 25 prints for free (excluding shipping) and they showed up at the house yesterday. I could not be more pleased. The photos are printed on this thick paper with a pretty white boarder and a textured matte finish. They just feel really good to hold between your fingers. They really are just lovely. You get twenty five 5 x5" prints for $21.99. That's about $0.89 per picture which is double the price for 4 x4" prints from Walgreens. Since I'm only printing up pictures about four times a year, I think I can treat myself with the prints from AU. At least that's how I'm going to justify that purchase.

Because I really do love them and no one is paying me to say that.