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Filtering by Tag: writing

YAYA MAGIC PANTS

Cindy Maddera

We gathered at the Yokalanda Lodge and Camp for Youth. The camp is nestled in the Yokalanda Woods. Established in 1957 by Earl and Rosie Feldstein, the camp has been a summer haven to underprivileged youth from all over the country. There are twenty cabins scattered through the hills and at the center of it all is the main lodge. The lodge is the beating heart of that camp. The main open room of the lodge is where all the campers gathered for meals and inside crafts. Depending on the weather, s’mores and stories were shared around the large fireplace that sat it one end of large room. In 1965, Earl died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. Finding herself unable to manage the camp, Rosie sold the camp and property to Billy and Ayleen Hershel.

Billy and Ayleen had originally planned to turn the camp into a commune. They had invited fifteen of their closest friends to join them in communal living, raising goats and growing their own vegetables. Ten of those friends agreed. That first year started off with the worst winter the area had ever seen with record snow fall and below freezing temperatures. The goats that didn’t freeze, were taken by wild animals. The hilly landscape proved to be too rocky for planting. The ten people who had agreed to join Billy and Ayleen all agreed now that communal living was not for them. Billy and Ayleen were forced to sell out to Carry and Diane McNabb. Carry and Diane turned the camp back into a summer camp for youth. After all this time, the two women still ran the camp, though in recent times and with less funding, the camp has seen better days. To make ends meet, Carry and Diane have opened up the Yokalanda Lodge in the off seasons to various retreats. Just last month an up and coming tech company rented the retreat for a managers training session. The Pakempsey Shakespearean Company rented out the camp for a whole month while they rehearsed their summer traveling program of King Lear. This weekend the Yokalanda Lodge was hosting a small group of artists for a weekend of workshops built around unlocking creativity.

The weekend consisted of various workshops of various themes such as How to Monetize Your Art, Authenticity and Integrity in Creativity , Conquering Your Fear of Success and Telling Your Story. There were trust falls and roll playing and vision board building. But the real breakthroughs happened outside of those workshops. In the evenings, after their communal vegan dinner, the artists would break off into smaller groups gathering around campfires and on cabin porches. There was always wine and the occasional passing of joint and they told each other their deep fears and they opened their souls to each other. It was in these moments that true cathartic release occurred. Tears flowed. Realizations were made. Plans were formed. Pacts were made. Bonds were formed. By the end of the weekend, as cars were being loaded up and cabins were being swept clean, the artists of that weekend retreat found themselves each quietly trying to process their experience from the past two days. Words were barely spoken until all were loaded up and ready to head out on their separate ways. They gathered to say their goodbyes. This was the moment that proved to be the most difficult of moments. They found themselves unprepared to say their farewells. They held each other tight as tears streamed down their faces. Then they got in their cars and headed out on their separate ways, fortified with their experience of this retreat and knowing that they would always have each others love and support.

That’s probably the best way to put into words what this weekend was like for me. I spent it at the Yokalanda Lodge. I have the bug bites to prove it.

CREATIVE FARTS

Cindy Maddera

I wrote a tiny story about a woman in a yoga class. It is a fictional story, one I wrote in the Fortune Cookie journal. The prompt had something to do with silliness and I was genuinely stuck for a good five minutes before I started writing about a woman who cracks herself up when she accidentally releases a colossal fart while in yoga class. It may or may not be based on actual events. It sounds juvenile and it is, but I couldn’t really think of anything as silly as a fart. God, I remember when Quinn was really little. We were playing in his room when he farted. I said nothing because we were at that stage of trying to teach him that passing gas was nothing. He gave me that squinty side-eye thing that he does and said “I farted.” in a tone that implied he’d done something sneaky or funny. He really just wanted a reaction. I played cool and said “yup.” and then went about my business of putting Legos together. I had to leave the room a few minutes later because I could not hold my laughter in another second. I know we’re not supposed to teach them that farts are funny, but sometimes…farts are funny.

I was a little surprised that I could write so much on this topic. The story, not the fart, wrapped around the page and my handwriting is so horrid because I kept trying to write my letters smaller and smaller in order to fit more on the page. This happens every time I start writing something in the Fortune Cookie journal. I’ve talked about that here before and so you’d think I would be used to this happening every time I open a page to a new fortune prompt. I am not. I am not ever prepared to have so much to say or make up about a fortune cookie fortune. I am not ever prepared for the story that falls out onto the paper. Nothing I write is really any good. Sometimes they sound like the kind of fairytale you makeup while trying to put a kid to bed because you couldn’t find an age appropriate book to read them for bedtime. Sometimes they have a dark and sad tone. Apparently, sometimes they’re about farting in yoga class. I just keep thinking that the actual story is not as important as the practice of writing it.

Michael mentioned recently that he thought I should write a book of fiction first before I write something of non fiction. Michael thinks I should do a lot of things. He’s got lots of opinions, most of which I just nod my head in agreement and then say in a noncommittal way that I agree. I am not ambitious or driven enough to write a book in any form right now. Honestly, I don’t think I have it in me to write more than a thousand words on one topic. I have a google drive full of starters.

Elizabeth boldly stepped into what appeared to be a living room, though it was cluttered with the most random bits of things. A gramophone sat in one corner with some sort of skirt stretched over the cone. Even more piles of books and papers. Jars of odds and ends scattered all over. Elizabeth couldn’t quite make out their contents, but one of them appeared to contain eyeballs. She stopped looking and thinking too much about it. She really needed this job. Then she saw a man sitting near the fireplace, his head tilted back and resting on the backrest, elbows resting on the armrests. His eyes were closed, so he still didn’t realize Elizabeth was in the room. She cleared her throat. His eyes snapped open and sharply focused on her. “You’re not Maggie.” He said in a very matter of fact way. Elizabeth replied “no Sir.”

I started that one the summer of 2012. I wrote 3007 words before I just stopped writing. I wrote over 6,000 words for a story that was based on a dream I’d had where I was a magician’s assistant. Every night he turned me into a tree with golden leaves that would dissolve into golden butterflies and then fly out into the audience. It was a great trick. There was an idea for a children’s book about an egg with four yolks, but the story grew to a length that was not kid appropriate. Too long for a 5 year old, too simple for a 10 year old. I didn’t know my audience. I don’t know my audience. All of the stories have one thing in common and that’s how they sit there, incomplete, waiting for more words. The ideas come to me and then flutter away like butterflies. Or attack like seasonal allergies. It’s all about whether or not you think in half full or half empty terms. At least with the Fortune Cookie journal I know there’s not going to be an ending to a story only because I don’t end up leaving any room to write one.

My creative writing is more like creative farting on a page.

WRITE TO WRITE

Cindy Maddera

Cindy paused in her reading of an article in the New York Times entitled The Right Way to Follow Your Passion and opened the door to the wood stove supplying heat to the small cabin she was currently inhabiting. The coals were gray and when Cindy blew on them smoke and ash blew up into the stove. A few of the coals burned bright red as she blew, but most them just barely smoldered. She knew she needed to add more logs to the stove, but dreaded the trek out to the wood shed to collect the wood. Instead, she wrapped the wool blanket a little tighter around her body and snuggled down into the couch. She’d get that wood right after she finished reading about the difference between obsessive passion and harmonious passion. The differences seemed pretty clear as far as Cindy could tell. Obsessive passion leads you to do things for the accolades like more money, more trophies, more followers, more likes, just….more. Harmonious passion leads you to do things for the shear desire of doing them despite whether or not it makes you famous or rich or popular.

Cindy didn’t quite believe she did things out of obsessive passion. She generally liked taking pictures. So what if she checked all of the social media platforms constantly to see her notifications on recently ‘liked’ images. She wrote consistently on her blog because writing was therapy, though it didn’t exactly feel so therapeutic lately. Cindy felt that she didn’t have anything profound to say that didn’t seem like she was staring at her own belly button, picking out lint. Stale. That’s the word she would use to describe her writing of late. Bland and stale. She was all but writing about what she had for lunch that day and no one cares what she had for lunch. Cindy shivered despite the blanket wrapped around her body. She really should do something about getting the fire going in the wood stove. It would be dark in a few hours and the temperatures would continue to drop. Cindy knew she needed to collect enough fire wood so that she could stay comfortable through the night and not have to go back out later. She grumbled as she tossed the blanket aside and got up from the couch.

Cindy walked over to the door and put on her winter coat. She leaned back against the wall as she tugged her boots on one at a time. The problem, thought Cindy, was not her motivation for the things that she did. The problem was that she lacked passion. Her passion was like the mostly dead fire in the wood stove. It had been raging, with flames flickering hotly at some point in her life. As a teenager, she pushed programs for saving the environment and promoting safe sex with a loud voice. She made t-shirts and posters. She raised her fist in the air! Those were things that Cindy believed in sure, but she also had a fiery passionate belief that she could make the world a better place. In college, that passion shifted to keeping up with her classes and student government, but she really was more of a tag-along with the student government stuff. Cindy just wanted to be around those people and most of those people would end up being life long friends. Some of those people would influence later passions, even encourage them, but Cindy did question if she really had ever even had passions of her own or was once again tagging along on the passions of others.

Cindy stomped through the snow out to the wood shed, dragging the wood bucket behind her. The wind blew the hood of her coat back and her ears froze immediately. Her teeth chattered and she shook her head at her impulsive getaway. Cindy hated the cold and the snow, yet she’d booked herself into a remote cabin in the woods during winter. She should have booked herself into a remote yurt on a beach in Costa Rica. Next time she’d ignore price tags and splurge on the yurt and the beach. Cindy reached the wood shed and yanked the door open. Then she started to load up the wood carrier with logs. She knew not to over fill the bucket so that she could not drag it back to the cabin, but she also wanted to be sure to collect enough logs so that she would not have to stomp her way back out here again. Cindy tossed in three more logs and then tugged on the bucket. It slid towards her and she moved her mouth to the side in contemplation. “Two more logs.” She said out loud to the trees and whatever woodland creature was out in this horrid weather and tossed in two more logs. The bucket was too heavy, but Cindy put all of her weight into it and, struggling, pulled the bucket back across the yard to the cabin.

Cindy opened the cabin door and then grunted as she dragged the bucket up over the lip of the door frame and inside. She stomped the snow from her boots, but left her coat on as she started to put some logs into the wood stove. Passions waned, Cindy thought as she layered the logs in square pattern with what remained of the hot coals in the center of the logs. Passions waned and changed with age and that’s just what happened to her. Granted, Cindy had a strong feeling that most of that passion had faded out after certain life events that she was tired of dwelling on. She used the metal poker to shove the logs together to enclose the hot coals and then started to crumple up newspaper to cram into the spaces between the logs. It didn’t take long for Cindy’s fire to roar back to life. Satisfied, she stood and removed her coat. She picked up the paper and read “find your passion”. Easier said than done. Then Cindy read “Your passion should not come from the outside. It should come from within.” Now, if Cindy could only find that inner passion, she’d be all set.

Cindy settled herself back into her space on the couch. She set the New York Times aside in favor of the book she had brought along with her. The room was starting to warm up from the fire that was now crackling away in the wood stove. If anything, Cindy did know how to build a good fire.

NOW WHAT

Cindy Maddera

I don’t really know what to write right now. My goto topic for writing material is grief and usually I have a lot of material for this time of year. I’m not saying that all is well and that I don’t have plenty of grief material; it’s just not new material. Grief is the day to day grudge of missing a person that is just my way of life. Some one posted a clip of the news footage of the Challenger exploding because it was the anniversary of the event that would haunt us generation Xers for the rest of our lives. I still can’t watch a shuttle launch without holding my breath. My grief for the last seven years has been like watching the shuttle explode every single day. After a while you just get used to seeing it all disintegrate into a cloud of dust. A moment here and there spent crying in the stairwell is perfectly normal.

To tell you the truth, the year 2019 has already started to leave a stale old taste in my mouth. The month of January has been the longest and the coldest month I can ever remember experiencing. I saw a meme last Thursday that said “why does it feel like it’s January 74th?!” I had strong feelings for this meme because, holy hell yes. January is the never ending month and I don’t ever remember it being like that before this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with January other than the obvious memories of watching Chris die and the fact that the weather is the most awful weather that causes me to yell out profanities when I have to step out into said weather. I’m just saying, let’s move along. It’s not that I have somewhere to be, but I am kind of curious to know if those tulip bulbs I planted in the front yard last Fall are going to pop up out of the ground.

I heard a nasty rumor that the temperature on Wednesday is going to be four degrees. FOUR. Fucking. Degrees.

In other news, Albus has started doing this new thing he thinks is really fun. He brings a live mouse into the house and then let's the thing go. Weeee! Josephine spent one day fixated on the drawers under Michael’s bed and then the next morning I got up to find Michael sleeping on the couch. When I inquired about his sleeping arrangements, he said “there was a monster in my room.” The monster was a mouse. The same mouse that Albus had brought into the house the day before, casually batted around with his paw and then promptly allowed to run off to safety. Michael said that Albus did eventually recapture the mouse and decided to eat the whole thing while sitting next to Michael who then struggled to go back to sleep over the sound of crunching bones. The cat eats the whole mouse. Albus repeated the catch and release game with a new mouse the very next day. Michael and I managed to capture this one as it climbed up the curtains. We trapped it in a mason jar and had a long discussion about what to do with the mouse. I don’t keep bottles of chloroform around because I’m not serial killer and slow suffocation just seemed awful. The Cabbage thought the mouse was cute and I had to agree that it was a very cute disease carrier. In the end Michael let the mouse go. He released it in a wood pile across the street.

It has been nine days since this last incident. I feel like I need one of those Days Since Last Accident signs.

AT LOOSE ENDS

Cindy Maddera

Michael asked me the other day how I felt about not doing a 365 day project any more. I told him that it feels a little bit strange. Every single day for the last year, I took a moment out of my day to photograph myself. During the week, those moments usually happened in the mornings while I was out on my morning coffee walk. My backdrop was either a stairwell or some place outside. On most days I did not have an elaborate plan or idea; I just took a picture. Sometimes these were pictures of my hands. Sometimes these were pictures of my feet. My favorite one of the set is the one I took of just my leg and boot against the gray background of the stairwell. One could assume that I was doing a karate kick or a dance step. It has a simple minimalist aesthetic quality that appeals to me for some reason.

Some time around late October, I got really tired of the daily self portrait. I had not gained any insight into myself or built creativity. My eyes still went to the places on my body that I felt needs improvement instead of just seeing myself as beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t a complete bust. There were photos where I’d look at myself and think “wow, I’ve gotten skinny!” or “I really like how the gray streaks through my hair like highlights.” But I soon grew tired of myself and the day to day of it wore on me so much so that I did not want to continue with a 365 day project for this year. I didn’t even think about the project the day after taking the final picture until I was almost done with my morning coffee walk. I paused for a moment thinking I’d missed a turn or something before I remembered that this was my usual time of day for taking a photo.

I kind of don’t know what to do with myself.

I entered 2019 with out any sort of plan or intention. This might sound freeing to some people. The year is just one big open blank book to be filled with what ever fantastical idea I decide to fill it up with. A big blank open page. I am not the kind of person who thinks any of this sounds freeing. I don’t make up a detailed weekly meal plan every week because I’m being budget minded and trying to prevent food waste. I do it because if I don’t plan out the meals, dinner time will be chaos. Like tuna straight out of the can on saltines chaos. Though being budget minded and reducing food waste is also a good reason for the meal plan. If I don’t have some idea of a plan, my life tumbles into chaos and disorder. Which again, some people may thrive from chaos and disorder. I can tell you that this is the worst time of year for me to not have a creative project to distract myself from all the yuck that bubbles up inside me during the winter months. The winter is also when I feel the least motivated to do anything but curl up in a blanket while wearing my heated unicorn slippers.

I’m doing my best not to rush something. Recently, I sat down and wrote an outline for a book idea. I have the same story half written in a half a different ways floating around in various formats on my computer. I thought maybe writing an outline would give me focus and help to start pulling things together. It is giving me some direction and I have even spent a couple of hours writing on this project this week. I don’t want to set myself up for failure by saying this will be the year I write a book, but maybe this will be the year I get closer to writing that book. Maybe this year I focus more on writing and just a little bit on photography. I have started a new photography project, but it’s a photo a week. I’m calling it Project Zen. Michael gave me a desk top Zen garden and once a week I spend some time smoothing out the sand. Then I drag the rake through to make a design and carefully drop in the tiny rocks. Once I’ve finished, I take a photo. It’s a much more relaxed photo project, more like photo meditation.

I recognize that having some free time might not be so bad either; that facing the yuck instead of distracting myself from it would be a more mentally healthy approach to life. Maybe this year I can do a little of both.

WRITING A MILLION WORDS

Cindy Maddera

The other day, I started a word document on my computer for the sole intention of writing a specific story. All of my other bits of started stories are on the drive which means I have access to them whenever I am not near my personal computer. I kind of thought if I put it in a word document on my computer that I would specifically dedicate a certain amount of time every day to sit and write. That happened four days ago. I added two sentences to the two pages I'd copied and pasted over from a drive document. You know what I did Sunday after finishing laundry, making ghee, washing dishes (we use a lot of dishes on Sundays) and cleaning the bathroom? It sure wasn't writing. I organized my sock and underwear drawer. It's really nice. I should have taken a picture of it to show you. 

I also read. I've been reading Loving Day by Mat Johnson and I'm pretty much in love with this guy's writing style. There have been many times I've had to stop and read some things out loud because of how the words were strung together. I need to stop doing this because it's slowing me down. I pre-ordered Circe by Madeline Miller and it arrived days ago. I'm really excited about this book, but I've always been the kind of reader who finishes a book before starting another. Even though my fingers twitched to open up to the first page, I set it down and walked away. The idea of hearing Circe's side of the story, even if it's made up, is oh so appealing to me. I didn't really care for the Odyssey when I read it as a kid. Actually, all of those old Greek stories have been on my least favorite list mostly because women are either no where in the story, a beautiful damsel in distress or a witch. 

My insecurities were developed hundreds of thousands of years ago, just like all women. It has been passed down from ancient ancestors through art and storytelling. From the earliest literature, women have been depicted as meek and mild or hateful and villainous or a combination of all of those things. We are rarely depicted as warriors and depicted lovingly only when our bellies are are round with child, most specifically a boy child. We are never smart or if found to be cleaver we must be doing the Devil's work. Women are deceitful. I can't even bare to pick up classic literature anymore without cringing. It reminds me how long and slow our struggle for this current level of equality has been. It's been over three hundred years since the last witch trial. It's been about a hundred years since a woman was arrested for protesting for her right to a vote. It's been fifty five years since Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, though we still see discrepancies in equal pay.

All of this has nothing to do with my inability to discipline myself into writing every day. It does have everything to do with how I want to twine words together. I once heard someone say that to be a better writer, you should read from different writers. So that's what I'm doing. I'm reading so that I can eventually write a million words. 

 

TROUT

Cindy Maddera

The other night, I had a dream that I was fishing. Every time I cast my line, I would immediately feel a tug on the end of the line and I would reel in a beautiful rainbow trout. Over and over. I would cast my line and see the attached fly rest on the water a second before a trout would take a bite. I would pull the fish in, remove it from the hook and cast my line again. It didn't take long for me to have a bucket full of rainbow trout. I then had to clean my bucket of fish and this is where things started to go bad. I didn't have a clue as to how to clean trout. I knew that I had to remove internal organs but every time I cut into one, I just made a mess of everything. By the time I made it through my bucket, my trout were barely fit for cooking and if they were cooked, they would be served with a beware of bones kind of warning. 

My first thought, when I woke up the next morning, was of Dad. I thought of the hours we would spend at the banks of a pond or river, casting out our lines and how we would spend our evenings at the camper making up fly lines for the next day. We had good fishing days, though never as good as my dream. We also had bad fishing days. One year we didn't catch hardly anything and left Colorado feeling like we'd just wasted money on a fishing license. That was the worst fishing trip I can remember and Chris's first trout fishing trip with my family. He finally managed to catch a fish at the end of our trip but it was in a catch and release only area. Mostly though, the fishing was good. 

At the end of our day, we'd take our catch back to the campsite and Dad would clean the fish. I watched Dad do this one time. The last time we went on our fishing trip, Dad talked me through cleaning a trout. He wielded the knife as he explained the process of gutting and gently scraping the scales off the sides, but he never actually let me clean one of the fish. I have never held a fish down and cut it open and pulled out it's guts. That walk through lesson was so many years ago that I'm not sure I would even know where to start. Which explains the part of the dream where I butchered all of the fish. Some how though, I don't think that dream was all about Dad and the regrets of not ever learning how to clean trout. 

The other day Michael stepped out of the shower and said "hey! I think I could turn your blog into a book. If you'd let me." I prickled immediately at his suggestion. It is just that I have become very possessive of this blog. It is mine, wholly and truly. There are no other administrators listed in my settings other than me. When something breaks here, I have to fix it. I add the pictures and the words and I am the editor, even if at times I do a crap job of editing. I see nothing selfish about claiming it as my own and his idea of taking it upon himself to turn it into a book sounded more like him taking some claim to my blog. I tried to be polite when I said "no thank you" because I know he means well. I know he just wants me to publish something. I know he believes that I could publish something. But the blog is not a book. The book will come from something outside of this space. 

In this case, the words are the trout. Catching them is the easy part. The part after I've caught them is where I make a mess of things. The cleaning part. I'm going to start wielding a knife and by the time I'm done, the words will no longer be recognizable or convey meaning. It will no longer be the story it started out to be.

Except, some times, maybe I need to make a mess of things. 

 

DISTRACTION

Cindy Maddera

I might have mentioned on Friday's post about working on writing something. I have 1,998 words that I've written about a girl and an egg with four yolks. I just looked this up and I thought "what a coincidence!" I graduated college in 1998 and I got married in 1998. 1998 was a good year, but that's not my stopping spot. There's more to this egg yolk story. I just got a little stuck. So while I was stuck, I did things like watch videos of puppies and baby goats jumping on pigs. Then I got the brilliant idea to Google search why my body's been all achy and why I'm tired all the time, but I worded it in the most vague way with "what's wrong with me?" Let's just say that Google will find a whole lot wrong with you if you Google that question.

I stepped back from the computer and really thought about a more specific question to ask when I remembered that I used to take a magnesium calcium blend before going to bed every night to help relax my muscles. I also remembered that this helped, but I haven't taken it in a long time. I ran out and never got another bottle and it has been so long since then that I couldn't remember the dosage. So, I Googled magnesium calcium for sleep and Google didn't know what I was talking about, but I was able to determine that I might be deficient in magnesium in general. I finally came up with the dosage amount by searching my own blog. In case you're wondering it's 2000mg Mg/1000mg Ca. 

Then this weekend, I made us all trek out to Natural Grocers so I could pick up some Mg/Ca and also some iron/B12 supplements (I've been out of those for a few months now). I ended up finding way more stuff than the vitamins. Froast makes a breakfast link! I also bought my Thanksgiving "turkey". I took that Mg/Ca last night and just as I was tossing the pills into my mouth, I remembered something. My tired achy body might have something to do with the flu shot I got a week ago. Well...I could be magnesium deficient so taking the Mg/Ca couldn't hurt. I woke up this morning not achy, but still tired. Not really tired, but you know...wishing I could have five more minute hours. But after taking a shower and more vitamins and eating my oatmeal, I have to say I felt ready to go. Let's do this day! I even had enough energy to hide under Jeff's desk and scare him when he came in this morning.

I feel like if I were to print this out, my English teacher would totally understand why I have only written 1,998 words. It is obvious that I couldn't write in my condition. Yes, I realize that I just admitted to you that I am feeling better and therefor could have added at least a hundred words to that count by now. Except it seems like I've fallen behind on watching puppy videos. As soon as I catch up, I promise I'll write more.

Really.

I mean it.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Michael was standing in the shower with the curtain partially opened so he could talk to me while he showered. He started telling me about how he sometimes thought about writing a book. It was something he'd wanted to do ever since he was six. He went on about this for a few minutes and then suddenly switched tactics and said "but, since we all know the you're the better writer, don't you think you should be the one to write a book?" I'd been hoodwinked into a tale I thought was about him when really he was nudging me about writing. I rolled my eyes at him, turned on my heel and walked away.  This was followed by some yelling on his part about me rolling my eyes at him. 

"Cindy, you should write a book!" is not something I haven't heard before. Well meaning friends and family who read the blog see a potential for something more that I don't really see most of the time. Those other times when I actually think it might be possible, I sit down and write a few thousand words and then walk away, leaving the pages to flap around in the virtual wind of the cloud. For many years, I was someone else's cheerleader. In fact, I thought it was my job as Chris's partner to constantly encourage him in his writing endeavors, forever pressing him to write that screenplay or novel. It is odd for me to be on the flip side of all of that. It is unfamiliar territory, mostly because I still tend to focus on what I think I am not. I am thankful for Michael's belief in me even when I do not have it for myself. I am thankful for his nudges even if they make me roll my eyes. Eventually, those nudges may actually work by guilting me into writing something more than a few thousand words. 

I am also thankful for the reminder to focus on what I can be.

I am thankful for silly pumpkins and even sillier puppies (Josephine). I am thankful for the colors that are showing up in the trees. I am thankful for the two blooms on the pumpkin plants I planted last month. I am thankful for that one chicken that is laying an egg every other day. I am thankful for this giant poncho like sweater I'm wearing today and I am thankful for you. 

The Cabbage has been talking about going to Science City for weeks. We finally have a free weekend where we can do just that. So...here's to an awesomely scientific weekend and a truly truly Thankful Friday. 

 

HONING A CRAFT

Cindy Maddera

Probably the best thing I've done for myself this entire year has been to consistently write in my Fortune Cookie journal. I can't entirely say that this is something I did for myself because Michael bought me the journal. I'm not sure he bought it with the intention of me writing tiny stories based off the fortune on each page. I own that one, but it was more than the gift. He also gave me time to write in it. He respects that time I spend on Saturday mornings sitting in a cafe by myself. At first, I'm always a little bit stumped by whatever the fortune says at the top of the page. I sit there tapping my pen on the table struggling with even how to start a story, but I am always amazed at how the story flows once I get that first sentence started. Sometimes, most times, the story comes to me so that I end up packing the one tiny page full and I am disappointed that there is not any more space to write. 

I'm not writing anything amazing or worthy of high praise. I'm not going to win a Pulitzer or a Nobel prize in Literature for these tiny stories and that's okay. It's not about writing anything worth reading as much as it about just sitting down and writing and using my brain. There are stories I write where I think it would be nice to read them out loud to someone. I almost want someone in the cafe to ask me about what I'm writing so I can tell them the concept behind the Fortune Cookie journal so I can tell them all about it. I even imagine reading one of the stories out loud to them. It's silly fictional drivel but for some crazy reason I am really proud of it. I run out of room on a page and then I pat my self on the back with "you are so good, Cindy! This story is so inviting! You're the best!" Even though I know that if any one else where to read them, they'd be all "What the fuck kind of crap is this?!"

For the most part, no one but me ever reads those stories. Sure, occasionally I might post one here. Actually, rarely do I post one here. I've posted maybe two or three out of the dozens I've written so far. That's probably why it's so easy to pat myself on the back and tell myself that my little stories are so clever and engaging. It has become one of the few places where I feel like I might actually be good at this. It's sort of like being on my yoga mat. My tiny secret stories make me feel bold and creative and clever. Part of me is just vain enough to want to share those stories while the other part of me is cowardly enough to not want to share those stories. There's more of a chance that I will actually be at least clever and creative as long as I keep those tales to myself. This is a universal struggle. To share or not to share. That is the question.

I know that at the end of the day, if I confidently want to call myself a writer, I'm going to have to share. It has got me thinking about telling a story, about the organization of telling a story. I've been thinking of ways to put my story together in a way that would make it compelling enough to read. I feel like the stuff that I have written down in various word documents are just like notes on a napkin. There's no connection, no tie together, no hook. If anything, this exercise with the Fortune Cookie journal has got me thinking about hooks and tie togethers. It's got me thinking about NANOWRIMO and how I really should take advantage of that month (and right now, really) to be a writer. 

THINGS I USED TO DO

Cindy Maddera

I used to do gymnastics when I was little. I wasn't very good. I did get first place in competition for the balance beam a few times, but that was about it. The balance beam and the vault were my two best events. I was mediocre in floor routines and absolutely the worst in uneven bars. I could never pull myself up onto the top bar. Our coach, Mr. McLaughlin, would lift me up so that I could grab the top bar, but then he'd just walk away with me dangling there for what seemed like forever. You could leave one event out in competitions and I always left out the uneven bars. I was pretty decent at vaulting. The thing about the vault is that it really is a no fear event. You have to be all pot committed before you even start your run to the spring board. I had that part down; I tended to get a little wild at flying over the vault though. The balance beam was my shinning spot. I could balance while dancing across that narrow beam like a boss. 

I used to play the piano when I was little. I was mediocre at best. I could read music and memorize pieces to be regurgitated on the keys. I lacked passion and desire and discipline. I rarely practiced unless Mom was in one of those "I'm setting the timer and you are practicing!" moods. When recital time came along, I could perform my piece without error, but also without enthusiasm. I was never comfortable on the piano bench and I have short fingers that had to stretch too far for some of the keys. Piano led to percussion, where I was effortlessly good at playing snare, tymphany, and xylophone. Percussion was something I could play well without trying and didn't require much passion. Percussion somehow led to the cello. The cello turned out to be the instrument where I had to practice and no one had to tell me to practice. The cello turned out to be the instrument I wanted to play. 

I used to draw. I have sketchbooks filled with pencil and pastel drawings. I went through phases where I drew page after page of whales, then horses because most girls go through a horse loving phase and of course there are pages of elephants. My inspiration came from National Geographic magazines or whatever was sitting on the dinning room table. I sketched what I saw. One of my fruit bowl sketches is framed and hanging on my Mom's wall. I had the best flower and flower parts drawings in my Taxonomy of Vascular Plants class in undergrad. I was not an artist, meaning I wasn't good at composition or developing a particular style. I wasn't motivated to take art classes or dig deep to find my inner Georgia O'keeffe. I grew up in rural Oklahoma with a black and white TV. This was a way to entertain myself. 

So, why am I telling you about things I used to do? I don't know. I'm bored and unmotivated to write. I think writing about nothing is going to get me writing about something. Those are all things I didn't really have a burning passion to keep doing, but I still managed to hang onto something from each task. I can still balance like a boss. I can still read music. I can still draw a pretty realistic killer whale. I did retain some skills that I acquired from things I used to do. That's really not why I'm telling you about those things. They were things that came easy to me until they didn't. Does that make sense? The balance beam was easy until I had to start flipping off the end, which was fine until my body got too tall and weird to flip. Instead of trying harder, I just quit. The music stuff was easy, but when all my scholarships came from scholastic merit, I didn't really need to focus on the music any more. So I quit. Becoming a better sketch artist would have required more work. So I quit. 

Getting my camera out sometimes is very much like digging out my old sketch pad. It is work and most of the pictures I end up taking aren't any better than my fourth grade drawings. I don't take enough pictures. I focus too hard on composition instead of just taking pictures to see what will turn out. I spend too much time futzing with settings and wondering if I should just switch it to auto pilot. Writing, putting words here or anywhere is hard. It doesn't serve me any kind of purpose other than getting the random clutter out of my head. Sort of like how knowing how to read music is a useless skill for me now. Photography and writing do not make me any kind of money. There's no point in doing either of these things. Yet I do and I don't want them to become things I used to do. 

So...I'm going to try to find some motivation to keep on keeping on. 

THE WRITING DILEMMA

Cindy Maddera

Sometimes there are things that I want to write about but I can't write about it because someone might read it. Which is totally dumb, because if you write something you should expect that eventually someone is going to read it. Here in lies the Catch 22. I am of the old school way of thinking that if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. I don't have bad things to say about people, but since I don't talk as much as I write out things, I might say something hurtful. Why don't I just get a private diary, you ask? Why do I think I have to write everything here? Well the thing about so called "private" diaries is that they are never really private. Someone could always find it and read it and then what if that person is upset by what they read? 

It is the basic plot line of over a dozen teenage movies. Girl writes scathing things in diary. Girl's enemy finds diary, makes copies and distributes throughout the school. Oh the embarrassment of having your classmates read about how you want to French kiss Joey Martin and how Brenda Bellman is a stuck up little bitch. And of course, by the time everyone reads that stuff, it's completely outdated. You now want and have been Frenching Eric Taggert and you and Brenda are the best of friends. Until she reads your diary. Then all Hell breaks loose. Even when we write things down with the intention of those words being private, there is the potential for disaster. After Chris died, I found an uncountable number of notebooks where he'd written list after list. There was one where he'd written "I will be well" over and over, like a school teacher had punished him with writing this sentence a thousand times. I can't imagine he ever wrote that thinking that I would read his heartbreaking words of desperate hope or how shattering it would be for me to read it. Yet I understand that he wrote it as his therapy, when he and I both desperately wanted to believe that he would be well. 

I think about these things whenever I sit down to write somewhere. Even my Fortune Cookie journal that I write in every week. I was hoping those fortune prompts would inspire tiny stories of fiction, but there have been so many that just pull out threads of memory that I end up laying down on the page. Yesterday was the first time in a long time where I wrote something of fiction. I wrote about a woman working in her gray cubicle with gray walls and gray lighting and how she could see a flower shop out her window and longed for the freedom to run her own shop. It was the first thing I'd written in a long time that didn't make me nervous for others to read it. There's a slight worrisome panic that someone will read my words and it will stab them in the chest the way Chris's words stabbed me. I can't stop thinking about the first rule of the hippocratic oath. Do no harm. Am I causing harm with my words? That line between throwing my thoughts down on paper and exposing my raw skin is so very fine and thin. My balance has been off lately and I feel like maybe I've fallen into the raw skin side of things. 

Spring does that to me, probably because I've spent the last several months bundled up in layers of clothes. I've been hibernating. It's kind of like taking that first scooter ride of the season without a jacket because you think it is warm enough outside to go without. Then half way in to the ride, your arms are covered in goose bumps and your teeth are chattering. This time of year makes me more sensitive. Maybe I just need to put on a sweater. Or find a good therapist. 

I NEED TO WRITE

Cindy Maddera

I had an appointment with my massage therapist, Jeana, last Thursday. She's got a new bio-mat that fits the whole bed now. The bio-mat is warm and filled with amethyst crystals and magical powers (not really). Jeana is also filled with magical powers. She knew just by looking at me that I had been on a road trip because one hip was higher than the other, which she addressed but this is about my hands. She does this thing where she pulls my fingers back towards my elbows and massages my palms. This time when she did it, I wanted to come off the table and karate chop it. At the same time, a voice in my head screamed "I NEED TO WRITE!"

When she moved on, I was left with those words echoing around in my brain. What the fuck was that?!? Yeah, I mean, I know I need to write. I've got unfinished business, but it's unfinished because I'm lazy and apathetic. But this voice wasn't telling me I needed to do this because I need to do this. It was more of an internal primal need, like needing to pee. It was an urgent shout of need. If you would have handed me a pen and paper, I would have just gone to town writing a bunch of jibberish. Then, just like that, the voice was quite and I set the thought aside. I went on as normal. Then on Saturday, as we were driving to the sledding park, Michael was talking about something. I don't remember what he said, but something in the middle of my chest screamed "I NEED TO WRITE!" and it was so forceful that I felt my breath catch. I mentally slammed my heart back into my chest and told it to "shut up!"

Sure, I get it. I really really really need to finish something I've started. I know this. I'm just struggling with time. I know this sounds like a cop out, but really I have so many little side projects going. Besides keeping up with the blog, I'm taking pictures for my 365 Day Selfie project and my 365 Day Happiness project. I've carved out fifteen minutes in the mornings for meditation. Then there's work, where instead of taking a lunch break, I walk and get on my yoga mat. I eat a quick lunch at my desk before heading off to the next task. Once I'm home there's dinner to be made and people and animals that need my attention and TV to watch. Then when I finally have a moment, I am easily distracted with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and who said what where. 

I am sure this sounds familiar to many of you. I'm sure you all struggle with some version of the above. I just remembered that some time soon I need to do my taxes and I really need to sit down and create a spreadsheet of credit card debt. See? There's too much. How am I supposed to get the things done that I am supposed to get done and still have time to do the things I want to do? I remember the first time I sat down to write out my Life List and how it took forever because I kept putting things on the list that I should do. Practical things, like get photos organized. Which, by the way, I need to sit down and re-work that list because my life is different. I'll tell you what I need. I need to channel Benjamin Franklin. How did he do it?!?

All I know is that I better figure out something or I'm going to look like a crazy person walking around telling myself to shut up. 

FORMING A HABIT

Cindy Maddera

It's starting to become a Saturday morning habit. I get up, shower and dress and tip toe out the door around 7:30 AM leaving everyone else tucked in their beds sound asleep. I get to Heirloom and since it is Halloween, I am greeted by a lovely owl who takes my order and hands me a coffee mug, which I fill before finding my seat at the bar. I look up at the group working around the large table today. They are all dressed in costumes that look like they were designed by Wes Anderson. There's a fox and a cat and a crow. The best one is the guy making cookies, wearing a Cookie Monster costume. I open my Fortune Cookie journal and get to work.

Complaints are like bee stings but compliments are like butterflies

She felt the first sting. It came with an "Ugh! Why did you buy that color?" A welt began to swell up on her cheek. "This biscuit sure is dry." Another complaint sting started to swell up on her forehead. "I don't like that." "It's yucky." "I'll try it, but I probably won't like it." "Why didn't you bring me back anything?" "Why did you bring me back this cold sandwich?" Pretty soon she found herself covered in stinging complaint welts. Her skin hurt to the touch. Moving made her wince in pain. Then she heard "Oh! Thank you! I love this!" The words felt like the wings of butterflies, gently fluttering against her skin. "You do so much for us." "This dinner is really good." "I love you." And she found herself covered in soft butterflies. 

It's funny that this was the day's fortune, maybe even ironic. I ended up buying two Halloween cookies from Heirloom to take back home for Michael and the Cabbage. The Cabbage licked the face off of her's and then nibbled the edge before setting it back down on the counter, displeased. Then when I was putting her Batgirl costume on her, there were complaints that the costume was not pink. My reply in my head was "A pink Batgirl is dumb because everyone knows she wears all black with yellow trim. Duh!" I did not say that though. Instead I just shrugged and strapped the mask to her head. Her complaints no longer sting me, mostly because I've stopped trying to please. She wanted to be Batgirl, so I bought a Batgirl costume. She didn't say she wanted to be a pink Batgirl. Her disappointment is of her own making. Not to say that it's all complaining all the time. She was happy with the Spaghetti Joe's I made her for lunch and the dinner I put together for her Friday night. 

This is the first fortune of my Fortune Cookie journal that had me writing less fiction and more truth. I'm sure there are others that will do this. It's not like I made any rules for this journal. All I have to do is write something inspired by the fortune. Easy peasy. Actually, the only not so easy part of writing in this journal, has been making time to write in it. It seems that in order to make time to write, I have to tip toe out of the house at 7:30 AM on a Saturday. 

 

SACRED MORNINGS

Cindy Maddera

Last Saturday, I woke up around 7:30 AM, which believe it or not is actually considered "sleeping in" where I'm concerned. I got up, showered and dressed and headed out to run some errands before Michael woke up. This is not a new routine. I can get a lot accomplished in the mornings, but also I get some mental health time. I've made Heirloom Bakery my first stop lately, on these solitary Saturday mornings. Heirloom is a fairly new bakery that's opened in the Brookside area and everything about it reminds me of Portland. They bake everything from scratch and use local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Behind the counter there's a large work table where the young people who work there are always busy kneading dough or icing poptarts. 

Every time I walk in, I am tempted to buy one of everything from the display case. My personal favorite is the homemade poptart. On this particular day, I resist. Though all bets would have been off if the guy in front of me hadn't bought the last two Royals cookies. I went for the bread by the slice, toasted and slathered with peanut butter and local honey. I filled my coffee mug and took a seat at the counter. The counter spot is the best place because you can watch them making everything. You can see their faces, the look of joy and contentment as they work. Watching them move around the counter from one task to the next is like watching a well choreographed music video. I couldn't help but smile as Huey started crooning about the power of love being a curious thing and I watched the owner turn it up with a wicked grin. The bakery hummed. This is one of the reasons why this place reminds me of Portland. 

I chose my time at the counter to write in my Fortune Cookie journal while I waited for my breakfast. It didn't take me long to fill the tiny space given to my fortune on that page. I licked honey and peanut butter off my fingers while I tried to squeeze in just a few more words in tiny illegible handwriting. The story continued to write itself in my head even as I ran out of room to write in the journal.   

Nothing good comes from jealousy but there is good to be found in jelly beans

Carrie pressed her face up to the window and gazed at all the beautiful candies. There were sours and chocolates and every kind of gummy animal you could imagine. She stood up on her tip toes to peek up over a display of Cadbury chocolate bars to get a better look. This was when she heard the sound of skipping and chatter. She turned her head to see Maddie and father open the door to the candy shop causing the little bell above the door to rattle. Of course, thought Carrie. Maddie probably got all the candy she ever wanted. Maddie was always wearing the cutest dresses and they always looked brand new and clean. Maddie ate a perfectly packed lunch out of a tin box every day, never a paper bag, and her dad had a job. Carrie watched as Maddie pointed to a jar of gummy bears and wondered what it would be like to go into the shop and buy whatever candy she wanted.

If there had been room, Carrie would have wished for jelly beans. If there had been room, Maddie would have bought jelly beans for Carrie. But there was not and I'm OK with that, because there was room in my day just for this. 

NANANANABOOBOO

Cindy Maddera

I just realized that there is one week until the start of NaNoWriMo. Ok. Maybe I didn't just realize that. I've known all along. I just decided to realize right now only because I've been procrastinating on all things. So I might as well procrastinate on gearing myself up to write a novel in a month or something like that. Have I mentioned that I'm tired? I am tired. I don't even know why I'm tired. According to my Jawbone, I am a "stellar sleeper". It actually told me so in my weekly update. I am a little worried that my body's trying to tell me to eat a hamburger or a chunk of bloody meat. I am not going to do this, though I will confess to eating some bacon about a month ago. It was hidden in a breakfast sandwich (I ate it anyway). I know it's not a lack of iron that's making me lazy. I know that this is something that happens to me every Fall as the weather gets cooler. I am a bear. Rawr.

Here's a bit of surprising and or good news though. I finally get to wear the boots I bought months ago when Sorel was having a crazy sale. The insides of these boots are softer than babies. Also, this morning, I wiggled into a pair of skinny cords that I haven't worn since last winter and despite being a size smaller than what I normally wear, they are not tight on my waist at all. I am surprised by this because I haven't been on my bike in a week. In fact, I think my two wheeled days have come to an end for this year. Wah wah. It's really cold in the mornings! Since the weather has been wishy washy, we haven't turned on the heat. We turned it on once and then turned it off the next day and turned the air conditioning back on. So it's really cold in the mornings. There was a frantic moment last night when it was decided that I had to have my electric blanket plugged in but we couldn't find the cord. The cord that was still in the bed frame where I had left it when I took the blanket off the bed in the Spring. 

The alarm clock goes off in the mornings and it is still dark outside. Dark dark. The sun doesn't even look like it's ready to show it's face. Now the house is cold, but my bed it warm and toasty and I do not want to leave it. I end up spending the rest of the day dragging my body around while wishing I was still in that warm and toasty bed. This way of thinking takes up all the energy. When ever my brain starts to think about something else, like NaNoWriMo and some half-baked ideas I have going for that, I sort of just deflate. It seems like so much work! I've got a couple of fiction ideas that have a paragraph or two of a start, but I feel like there's to much research and thinking required. My other option is to return to the memoir that I already have 30,000 something words on, but I look at that one and say "BORING!" No one cares about that story. I don't even care about that story. That story is so weird and convoluted and has no ending. Which I guess is good considering it's a true story about my life. Which isn't over.

NaNoWriMo is not about getting all the facts straight or even getting all the i's dotted though. It's about getting the idea written all down into something usable. Then you can go back and straighten the facts and dot the i's. I have plenty of material for this exact exercise in writing. Does this mean I have just talked myself into another attempt at NaNoWriMo? At the very least I have now convinced myself that I should do it, but not completely decided on if I will do it. I have all week to think about it and guilt myself into it. That's usually how I get most think done. Guilt. I was a devout Catholic nun in a former life. The time change happens this weekend. Monday may roll around and my whole attitude about all things may be improved just because we set our clocks back an hour. Who knows?! Maybe seeing the sun come up when I am getting up will make me feel less lazy. 

I'm going to go take a nap. 

  

THINGS I SHOULD BE DOING RIGHT NOW

Cindy Maddera

If this were going to be a list kind of entry, the first three items of things I should be doing right now would be 1. writing 2. writing and 3. writing. Writing may even be number four on the list. Then number five would probably be to drink more water because even though I tend to only drink water, I doubt I drink enough water. I'm sure there are other things I should be doing right now (like not slouching, I am totally slouching), but I'm not here to write a list. I'm here to write! Ha! Right.

Seriously. I have unfinished things. I have ideas that should be expanded on. I have letters that I've been meaning to sit down and write. There are words out there that I need to gather up and corral. Instead I am spending my spare moments looking around the internet at nothing in particular. When I am at home, I am on the couch playing Sudoku or coloring in my new coloring book. Completely random side note. I bought my coloring book at Powell's Bookstore in Portland. When I asked the young man checking my bag if he could tell me where the adult coloring books were, he gave me a sly look and asked "Do you mean a coloring book or an "adult" coloring book?" and raised his eyebrows at the adult part. They have pornographic coloring books for adults. I regret that I didn't even go to that section and look at them. Also, that young man was covered in glitter. I love Portland so much.

An hour here. Fifteen minutes there. Twenty minutes in between this and that. All of those minutes are minutes I am wasting. Then I feel really bad about myself. Then I remember how Benjamin Franklin made himself a time management schedule because he had a hard time keeping his time in order. Benjamin Franklin couldn't even keep himself from the distractions of colonial life to get as much done as he would have liked. Then I don't feel so bad about myself, but I am not even close to being a Benjamin Franklin. The good news is that's OK, because I don't really want to be a Benjamin Franklin. Do you see how good I am at wasting time? 

Sunday, Michael and I were making our second trip of the weekend out to IKEA (you don't even) and the radio got flipped to NPR just as the Moth Radio hour was starting. I was all "Ooooh! I love this show! We should listen to this! Michael I think you'd really enjoy it! I want to tell a story on the Moth!" My brain went "wait. what? You do not want to tell a story on the radio." Michael asked what sort of criteria was required and I couldn't even tell him. I said "You know. A story. A true story about something." I really had no idea what the criteria are for Moth stories, but my mouth was saying that I wanted to do one. I don't think everything through. Except once I said it out loud I knew that this was something I wanted to do because I have a story. I have a great story! 

I just need to write it down first. 

NUMB FINGERS

Cindy Maddera

When Chris died, I started writing a whole lot more. Not necessarily in this space, but there's bits and pieces of things accumulating in my google drive. My drive is full of thoughts on this whole widow thing, things about my dad, stories. There's even a little bit of fiction in there. I entertained thoughts of putting it all together in some sort of book. I participated in NaNoWriMo with the idea that this would be a great way to get all of those thoughts compiled into one spot. I was on a roll. I did really well. I put together over 35,000 words all into one space until I finally reached a point where I felt like I didn't have any more words to put down. I was also very much alone with my own brain during that time. I could either type it all out or talk to myself or the dog. Who am I kidding? I talked to myself and the dog while typing typing typing away.

These days I am less alone with my own thoughts. I have less time for my brain to ramble. I do a lot less typing typing typing than I used to. As a result, all that stuff in my drive folder is gathering dust. There's two sides to this coin. On one side I'm more engaged with things outside my own head. On the other side, I have unfinished projects. I wrote one hundred words for NaNoWriMo last year. I have yet to find a balance of sitting down to write and spending an hour or so inside my own head. When I do have time to myself, I find that I am easily distracted from working on any of those unfinished projects. I'll open my laptop and get settled. I'll have the drive folder of interest open to work on and then Oh...I need to check my mail. I wonder what's happening on facebook. When's the last time I checked out a recipe at Thug Kitchen? I should see if any one I follow has posted anything new on their blog. Amy may have posted some new pictures of Charlotte in flickr. I need to see those baby pictures. My fingers have become too heavy to lift and it's just easier to click a mouse around.

The other night I woke up in a fit of coughing. As I laid there trying not to cough and trying to go back to sleep, I suddenly had a clear direction for one of those unfinished projects. I wanted to write again. I'm sure it has something to do with wanting to write something other than a memorial entry. I'm tired of writing those. I'm starting to lose track of time. How many years has it been now? Three years? Twenty years? One day ago? Time blurs all that up. He knows that he is missed. There's more to it than the want to write more and put some finishing touches on things. I want to make time to do that. I want to carve out a few minutes a day to trap myself inside this head. Michael is currently down in the basement building himself a work bench. He's carving out his time and space. I need to take his lead and do the same for myself. I'm doing that now with a dog curled up at my feet. It's not a bad gig. 

TO WRITE OR NOT TO WRITE

Cindy Maddera

I'm sitting here looking at the calendar and it kind of makes me want to throw up. This is the last week of October. The very last week of October. I didn't even carve those pumpkins we put on the porch for Fall decorations. Wait...since I never carved scary faces on them, that means I can leave them out there as Thanksgiving decorations right? Harvest theme? I like to think Martha Stewart would be applauding my decorating ingenuity right now. She may even overlook that one small pot of mums where all the flowers are missing their petals because something ate them. Needless to say that I've let the bathroom remodel consume my month of October. So much so that I didn't realize that November was right around the corner. November should come with a concierge or social secretary because as I look at the calendar, I start to hyperventilate. 

November is also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I knew it was coming up and the idea of it has been tickling the back of my brain, but I haven't said any thing about it. A couple of days ago, Michael said "hey, are you going to do your novel writing thing next month?" and I kind of just stood there gaping at him. First of all, I repeat, I have not said a word about NaNoWriMo since this time last year. Secondly, I didn't even know he was paying attention. Actually, I'm kind of impressed. I honestly thought the only thing on his radar right now was baseball. After I got past the shock of the question, I managed to mumble out something like "I don't know." Because, I really don't know.

I'm kind of in a mood of letting everything fall to shit and just starting over in the New Year. I feel fat and lumpy. Things around the house seem kind of dirty. The garden is an over grown mess. I mowed over tomatoes last week. I know I shouldn't eat the cookies that someone brought into work. I know that there's going to be a bucket of candy sitting in this house Friday night and that I shouldn't sit on the couch and shove miniature candy bars into my face all evening. But I really feel like throwing my hands in the air saying "next year, I'm going to lose 10 lbs! But for now I'm going to be a lazy slob!" That mindset is sort of applying itself to every aspect of my life. Next year, I'm going to work harder on being a better photographer. Next year, I'm going to do better on having activities planned for Cabbage weekends. Next year, I will write more. Next year I will be a better version of myself or the self I am right now.

So...getting myself involved in NaNoWriMo this year doesn't really fall in line with my whole fat lazy slob plan. In fact it's just the opposite of that. It will require me to make time between chores and The Walking Dead for writing and finishing up that stupid memoir I started forever and a day ago. Michael even said that I could just pick up where I left off and I can think of a million excuses for why I can't just pick up where I left off. I am more prepared to get out of doing NaNoWriMo than I am prepared to participate. I am all set and ready to not do this. Except Michael followed up his with questions with "I really think you should." For some strange reason he believes in my writing. He thinks I can write something longer than a blog entry. Part of me wants to laugh at this belief and part of me wants to actually believe he's right.

I guess that means I'm doing this. Maybe I'm doing this because someone else believes in me.  Maybe I'm doing this to pull me out of a slump. Maybe I'm doing this as a last ditch effort to salvage the year. Sending out 2014 with an accomplishment. Something other than gaining ten pounds.