come on down

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I posted earlier about joining an online creativity group.  It’s run by the acclaimed artist Erin Gafill from Big Sur and is called Awaken the Artist Within. 

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one of Erin Gafill’s paintings

I met Erin down at Rancho La Puerta over my birthday and I felt so inspired being in her classes that I signed up for this eight week course as part of my 2014 set of goals to enliven myself.  So much of last year (and the beginning of this one honestly) was spent in very dark places of murder and mental illness that I’ve decided I need to balance all of that out with very uplifting, positive activities/relationships/travels, etc.

For me, most of the time I tend to pull myself out a funk with some kind of creative project.

This year had such a dramatic rough start that I’ve not fully engaged in this course yet.  BUT I did manage to get out to Michael’s and pick up all my supplies which was really REALLY fun.  I’ve got charcoal, watercolors, pastels, pencils, papers and brushes.  All still in the bags at the moment. :/

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As today is a day off, I’m promising myself to get started on something.  At the very least, organize my supplies and see where it takes me.  I have an easel just sitting there waiting for me!

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I also did some digging in my craft room (yes I have a full on craft room in my house) and ran in to lots of old art pieces.  Back when I was in college and my sister was working for the Mesa School District as a Nutritionist, she actually hired me as an independent contractor to design their monthly school menus with an artistic flair.  She always had such higher perceptions of me than I ever had for myself.  I always liked to draw and do all kinds of artsy crafty things, but she hired ME to create these flyers…and I got paid for it.  It was my second part time job I had while in college.

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I ran in to several of those flyers, then I also ran in to this.

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the invitation I made for Cindy’s Price is Right party in 1984

Cindy and I went to California every year to visit our Grandma Buddha for her birthday on March 18th.  She always spent the winter there in a small hotel near the beach.  She would arrange for the adjoining room to hers and we would fly or drive out and have these wild long weekends with her running around LA doing touristy things and wining/dining.  We always had a BLAST with her.

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Cindy, since childhood, was obsessed with the show The Price is Right.  In fact, on long camper trips, she’d pull out grocery items from the cupboards and force my brother and I in to these long games of guessing prices and competing against each other using Price is Right games.  I never really liked that show myself but she was obsessed with it.

So of course, she decided one year we would go and try and get in the audience.  Which we did, after waiting HOURS AND HOURS in lines outside the studio.  Even Buddha, such a good sport, waited in line with us.  The first time we went, we really studied the whole process and figured out their game and our strategy.

Once we made it inside the building, you were given some kind of form to fill out with your name, then they would take you, three by three in front of a panel of producers who would ask you basic questions.  You’d also get a price tag name badge with your name written on it to wear.

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We noticed several things after going through that line the first time (none of us got called).  They tended to pick people in bright colors, big personalities, a funny T shirt or hat, big boobed women, something that clearly made them stand out.

So the following year we went prepared.  Very prepared.  We had planned it before packing for the trip.  We decided, since Cindy wanted to get on the show and I was mortified at the thought, we would dress her in BIG bright colors and me in dowdy greys.  We did her hair huge (it was the 80’s) and mine flat, we gave her big makeup and a top that made her bustline accentuated. I wore no makeup.  We also downdressed Grandma.  We manipulated the whole thing where the three of us would end up in that little interview with Cindy in the middle.  Buddha and I sort of looked down and away as Cindy pushed herself forward with her big huge smile, bright teeth, big makeup and huge personality.

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And, I just knew she’d get called.

And she did.

Cynthia Monkman Come on Down!!!!

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I was both shocked and not surprised at all.  I just had a feeling!

My sister made it all the way through that show to the Showcase Showdown!!! She was on that stage the entire second half of that hour long show!  They even showed Buddha and I in the audience screaming and clapping.  I was so incredibly happy for her and proud of my sister for fulfilling this lifelong dream! She had the chance to win a trip to New Orleans, a new fangled video camera, many many other big prizes.

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And she choked.  She guessed a number so low that she lost. 😦  She was bummed but she was really also completely elated that she even got on the show, met her idol Bob Barker and won a small acrylic fish aquarium which was the first prize that got her on the stage.  She got to spin the big wheel and play several games as she kept advancing.

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I don’t recall her ever being really too bummed out or embarrassed that she missed that Showcase prize.  None of us were really.  We just shook it off and went out for Happy Hour and dinner, celebrating as usual.

She never put fish in the aquarium but used it as kind of a decoration in her home.

It took me years to get rid of that stupid thing as it was really just a dust catcher and sat in my garage for years.

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it looked something like this but came with no aquarium supplies, just the box

I shouldn’t say stupid thing because it held lots of memories.  But as time goes on, you just have to let things go.  I remember years after her death when I had a garage sale and went through boxes of her belongings stacked in my garage, standing there turning a match book over and over in my hand unable to let it go.

Finally, over time, you wind down to a few important items, photos and your memories.

I remember the day I sold her 1977 powder blue Volkswagen convertible bug.  A man flew in from out of state to buy it and ship it home. I wondered if I’d tell him the story of it and I eventually had to as I broke down in tears in front of this stranger.  That was probably fifteen years after her death.

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Time has no real role in the grieving process I’ve determined.  It’s something that winds around and around the chambers of your heart with it’s own rhythm.  Sometimes it makes sense but most of the time it doesn’t.

I have that entire Price is Right Show on video tape.  I need to get it transferred to dvd or digital.

I hosted a big viewing party to watch the show the evening it aired as everyone was at school or work during the day.  I made a director’s chair with her name on the back of it, had all of these snacks reflecting the show like these Pepperidge Farm cookies she’d bid on and we all watched while rewinding and laughing our asses off.  I covered my bathroom mirror with homemade yellow name tags with all the funny quotes she said during the show.  I even had name tags for all the guests to wear.  It was a blast.

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inside of the invitation–this would have been 1984 –she was gone four short years later

So many little quips were born from that show like her saying “I’ll go for the cookies Bob” or “that’s ok Bob” when he said he was sorry she lost.  Or “I love New Orleans!” she excitedly mouthed when they showed her the Showcase.  And she’d only been to New Orleans, with me, for about 3 hours in a strange road trip we once took.

These memories are bittersweet.  I have tears rolling down my face right now, actually, remembering.

Losing someone so important to your entire life, your soulmate, makes you feel on one hand lucky you ever had it and cursed you ever had it because the loss runs so deep.

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Again, I’m reminded she’s out there/up there/around me somewhere even if it’s only in my memories or a belief and still with me.

I have to think that.

To keep living.

Maybe if I ask her today, she’ll come on down, back to me for awhile.

She could even show up on a sketch pad.  Guess it’s time for me to open my right brain and take a look…

8 thoughts on “come on down

  1. What a fabulous memory to have and share. Not only do we get to learn how special Cindy has been, but to share in the bond of sisterhood and feel invited to the Come On Down party makes me want to smile, hug you, laugh, and cry deep gut-wrenching sobs. Special. special people, right to the core, that’s what you have in your heart, soul, and genes.

      • Never a need for thanks, friend. I hope Cindy truly enjoyed and remembered her experience on the game show. Too bad she didn’t win a fabulous prize, but it was definitely one worth many laughs and memories. I’m in the category that if I win, it is a real dud prize. Mine was a skinny-ugly long-legged ceramic frog sitting on a pot. . Not sure what the significance of that was…… but we have laughed about it for years now.

  2. lovelaw

    Beautiful story. I wish she could “come on down”, again.
    Enjoy the creativity group! Sounds like something you were born for.

  3. Cyndi Wells Platfoot

    What a wonderful story.I had a huge grin on my face reading all about the experience.
    The party invite was so creative. You are very talented!

  4. pilcherje

    Moving memories. We have them because something happened before we captured them, in our heart. They belong to us, until we share them. I feel like Cindy continues to inspire you through music, writing and now, returning to art. In this way, her circle is growing with you and we can cheer you on…

    What color is on your palette today?
    xoxo

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