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Harrington had never had a crisis before, at least, not in the way people described them to be. She was self-determined, well-admired, and very, very self-absorbed. Harriet as everybody knew her, used the name Harrington as her blogging nickname. In actuality, she did book reviews in her blog.

Time spent reading novels in a quest to find an author with whom she could feel as one with, left her with a lot of opinions about the books she had read.

She read 22 novels in a row in two years. She was alone with her thoughts many a time, taking into account the pros and cons of what the authors had to write. She read their words complacently, that is without being too opinionated or judgmental. However, the opinions did come, (at first slowly, then in waves) . . . her main concern was, that there was not an author in sight whom she could agree with on every point. This left her feeling disconnected.

She believed in decent living, point blank, and in believing so was looking for a bias in writing that sought to improve the standard of living for everyone. In her heart of hearts, she believed that the uplifting and forward motion of everyone on board was what moved the globe forward.

Harrington managed a gift shop by day and blogged away by night. Her crisis, as it plagued her, was a small jaded belief that it didn’t quite matter anymore what she did in life, because it all amounted to nothing. This feeling of mediocrity manifested itself at all times, in the supermarket, of all places.

She could not justify buying food items that she otherwise wanted. There was a waning force in her decision-making, that’s what her therapist had informed her. Before she could fully make up her mind and commit to a food item, her subconscious would engage in rhetoric to stop her from buying it.

The therapist also pointed out, that she was withdrawing from society as a whole, and that the supermarket was a metaphor for her decision-making subconscious. Her brain’s structure and her thinking were sound. She could get to the supermarket on her own just fine, and she had enough in her checking account to pay for all her groceries with her debit card. She just needed a push to complete those small decision-making food-buying processes.

She came up with the answer on her own, that’s what the therapist had informed her one cheery afternoon. Having worked with a rearranging array of inventory at the gift shop, Harrington grew accustomed to sorting products into virtual bins. There were the hand-entered notes into her spreadsheets and word processing programs, but she also became adept at visualizing large virtual make-believe bins for storing inventory.

“Ingredients,” Mel her therapist began, “ . . . that was the word you used pervasively.”

“Yes, and it makes even more sense, now that I’ve been cooking and cooking non-stop, trying to stuff as many vegetables into myself,” Harrington said.

“What types of dishes are you cooking?” Mel asked.

“Oh, not just cooking, but also baking and experimenting. Give me a couple of hours, and I’ll make both mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes,” Harrington said.

“What do you think is the significance of all your cooking, baking and experimenting?” Mel asked.

“I’m trying to heal whatever is wrong with me . . . that’s all,” Harrington said.

“You have the answer Harriet, you’ve sorted everything out through all your cooking,” Mel hinted.

“Now, does it have something to do with the way I think of food?” Harrington asked.

“Yes, precisely . . . What did you classify all that food as?” Mel asked.

“ . . . as ingredients. That’s it, isn’t it? I should no longer have random grocery lists, I should really now group the items according to the particular dish I’m preparing—as ingredients,” Harrington said with surprise!

“Yes, your world views, much like your grocery lists are starting to mesh for you. Each food item has a purpose, that is, to be an ingredient in what you’re planning to make. Your decisions to buy specific ingredients rest completed in every aisle you traverse, your interest in buying any particular item should not wane anymore,” Mel said.

“Why didn’t I see this before?” Harrington asked.

“What you’ve come up with is a paradigm. Now the dictionary will define that word for you as a model, but it’s more than that. It’s a way of looking at something. Now, go home and tell me in a few weeks, how you feel about the supermarket,” Mel said in conclusion after their therapy session.

Harriet in her day job, became brazen when she changed the name of the gift shop to something more hip and upbeat. The shop once known as “Fanciful Things” became “The Chic Boutique.”

Harriet hadn’t told her therapist that what led to her trouble in the supermarket, actually started in the shop. The Chic Boutique offers pre-gift wrapped adorable gifts. It’s a one-stop shop for that perfect something for the female somebody in your life. It could be for your sister, mother, aunt, daughter, next door neighbor . . . The gifts were feminine and beautifully wrapped.

The problem started when Harrington’s boss Sheila asked her to discern new gift idea products, from otherwise mediocre ones that shouldn’t make it onto the shelves.

What should have been gleeful and fun tasks, became muddied by a lack of clarity in discerning what looked good enough to sell. This mental stumbling block would not have been considered a crisis, or even a precursor to a crisis. However, it led to the supermarket decision-making debacles.

Harrington felt that in order to complete the answer to her troubles, she had to bring up her difficulty in discerning which deserving gifts to stock, with Mel.

“Should I go on medication Mel?” Harrington tense-fully asked during their next session.

“What brings you to that question?” Mel wondered.

“I’m finding things wrong with me, and I thought medication might correct some of them . . .” she confided in Mel.

“You need to pick and choose from gift catalogs—what it is you want to stock in The Chic Boutique. If you can’t decide, have some of your best customers take a survey to decide for you,” Mel suggested.

“Are you saying I need a second or third opinion on these gift ideas to make sound decisions?” she asked.

“Yes, if you had an ailment, wouldn’t you want two, or three, even four doctor’s opinions on your condition, before deciding the best treatment plan? You could treat most any decision-making crisis or dilemma, as something to be consulted about,” Mel continued to guide her.

“I’ve taken database classes, in the hopes that if I knew how to sort these gift ideas, then I would stand a much better chance at choosing from amongst them for the store shelves,” Harrington continued. “Tell me Doc, what is the key to all of this database nonsense? I grapple with that question a lot.”

“What have you learned about databases, so far?” asked Mel.

“I’ve learned that you can group similar items, much like the ingredient lists that you mentioned, but I have such a hard time figuring out how to pick one of the ingredients as the reference or key term for each group of items,” Harrington said.

“Well this is where I can help you, because my brother the software designer, has clued me in on some of the tricks to database design. First of all Harrington, let’s say you’re planning a picnic. What are the dishes you would make for it? I’d like you to give me a list,” Mel asked encouragingly, “I’ll give you a hint, the reference or key item from each ingredient or dish list, will become a part of a bigger whole.”

“I would make potato salad, macaroni salad, a Caesar’s salad, pigs in a blanket, finger foods, for easy eating,” Harrington responded.

“Perfect, which ingredient, from each dish would you pick as the key term or reference word for each table/recipe, to use during your database queries?” Mel prodded.

“I would pick the mayonnaise from the potato and macaroni salads, the romaine lettuce from the Caesar’s salad and the flour ingredient from the pigs in a blanket and different finger foods,” she assessed.

“Perfect, now the mayonnaise, lettuce and flour, where do you shop for these? . . . . Might they comprise a larger whole, a bigger picture, if you will?” Mel asked.

“I shop for them at the ‘La Cuisine Shop,’ a one-stop shop for vegetarians” she said.

“Well, there you have it, the key terms for each table/recipe in your database, put together, comprise something significant in itself, let’s call them ‘Cuisine Shop Specialty Items.’ That’s the way to logically classify together your database tables, to group the key terms, so that they embody a larger picture or concept” Mel advised.

“Okay Doc, same time next week? I’ve got blogging questions you may be able to analyze . . .”

“I’ll be here,” Mel said, concluding their therapy session.

One therapy session at a time, Harrington was putting her life back together after those almost debilitating bouts of indecisions in her life. Eventually Mel did put her on thought disorder medication, but that was only to balance out her system chemically. He knew that Harriet as Harrington the blogger, was bemused by all the paradigms they came up with during their sessions. Those paradigms sorted everything out for her, and the medication was just there should confusion suddenly befall her again. Paradigms, as ways of looking at a scenario or as the dictionary says, workable models used in our lives—were just what the doctor had ordered!


Short Bio:  Cynthia J. Cordell is a wonderful short story writer. She always roots for the underdog in every situation and has fun developing her characters to their full potential.  Cynthia is a Filipino-American writer who has a passion for uplifting the mood of the general population through her short stories.  Whether it be in the science fiction genre or the mainstream genre, Cynthia finds a way of appealing to a wide audience. Her gift for writing effective and entertaining short stories comes from the vast amount of reading that she does.


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