Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sorting Through Stuff

It's raining today, as anyone on the East Coast is well aware, and I am expanding on the project I started yesterday. Said project was so engrossing, that I skipped writing and almost didn't ride! I did squeeze in a short one late in the afternoon- it was glorious.

My big project is sorting and rearranging the closets. I still had numerous boxes to unpack, which were stacked haphazardly in the office. Miscellaneous papers and old magazines had collected on top, gracing the piles with a rickety, mountainous feel-the avalanche was imminent. They overwhelmed the room. It was not condusive to creative thought, thus inhibiting my writing. Bejeweled Blitz and the Chronicle of the Horse Forums had nothing to do with it.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

In order to unload said boxes, I first had to clean out the office closet, which was crammed with more boxes. The boxes contain mostly books that are awaiting bookshelves. I keep planning to go to Pennsylvania, visit my sister, and pay a visit to Ikea...

The top shelf and the floor are where I stuffed Mr.W's things. Essentially I emptied the closet, though that led to the claning and reorganization of two other closets. There is a decieving amount of storage space in this house. Unfortunately, most of the space is unusable for what I want it for. Sigh. At least there is a basement- a little damp and things get covered with cat hair, but it has lots of space- again, shelves are needed.

I turned on Pandora radio and dove in, tackling the floor space first.

There were lots of pictures, most still in their envelopes. After pausing to look at most of them, I organized them into a box. Yes, I know, if I the goal is to empty boxes, why fill another, but it seemed logical at the time. I found a pair of Ugg-like boots, a pair of Docksides, one loafer, and a single sheepskin slipper that the dog promptly stole to use as a chew toy. I also found various blank pistols, a 22gauge rifle, hunting knives, a dog training collar, and a duffle bag with a change of clothes and a full tube of toothpaste that had evidence of a small rodent population- my sister is now cringing and thinking up likely excuses to not visit. I threw the toothpaste out. The clothes went in the laundry and yes, they required the hold-them-with-two-fingers-as-far-away-from-the-body-with-an-eeewwww-face.

Without throwing more than meaningless papers or old magazines away, moving things that belong in the garage(a gallon of driveway sealant in the tiny hall closet. Really?),totally revamping said hall closet into linen storage, rearranging the cabinets in the laundry/mudroom, and reorganizing the cabinet under the fish tank, I was able to fit the contents of the boxes in the office closet.

And I wonder why it took all day.

But it was interesting to see what we keep. The photos are precious and even in this digital age, there is something about holding the past in your hand. When I looked at the pictures from Mr. W's past, I felt like a part of the memory -no synesthesia as when I encounter my own photos, but experiencing a glimpse into the events that made him who he is today. I'm sure the braces and huge glasses were character building.

In my things I found surprises, long forgotten things I carelessly dumped into boxes only six months ago. Embarrassing pictures(the concert shirt phase was perhaps marginally worse than the boys rugby shirt phase) photos full of painful memory(dark cloud, remember?), my great-grandfather's Masonic membership, an album from my dad, cards signed by lost loved ones, a license plate, college notebooks, file upon file filled with papers I don't recall writing, a hospital card from when I was born, and my mom's rolodex.

These are things we hold dear-he has his dog training paraphenalia, a place setting from his favorite restaurant, cards and letters from friends and family, an odd wooden sheep on wheels, and a "Twister" game(not going to ask). I have a license plate, a broken mug full of pens, a letter opener, and a replica of an ink pot. They have little financial value. And I'm sure, in the months to come, I will shuffle and reshuffle these treasures, mingling Mr. W's with mine as I strive to bring some order to the chaos of a house crowded with too much stuff.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Writing Thoughts

I've been working on a short story. This particular one is a bit difficult for me to write, because even though it is fiction, at it's center are some things that I based on my own experiences.
When I described what it was about to some friends the other night, I got the feeling that, when explained, the story-line seemed convoluted and hard to follow. Well, really I got a sort of "Hmmm...Oh. Huh." Which let me know there was something missing in my recitation- or the idea sucks.

I went back to re-read what I wrote and decided to attack the story differently. And I realized I have a habit of writing too much in the past tense. My characters look back at certain key events and explaining them too literally-there is no sense of discovery, just the character's recollections. Instead I am trying to write more progressively, taking the reader along with the experiences of the characters.

This looking back is a habit I employ in my real life, too.

For me, how people react to situations is dependent upon who they are, their experiences, and how they were raised. All of those emotional and rational attitudes dictate the choices we make and how we deal with stress and challenges. But when you interact with someone, unless you've known them for years or grown up with them, you don't know the reasons behind their behavior.

I like to try to guess the why behind what people do. If someone overreacts, I usually chalk it up to a bad day or week. If someone dismisses me, of course I take it as some sort of failure within myself, but then rationalize it later as insecurity on their part. And believe me, with a little more information, like family members, upbringing, or job, I can dream up a whole slew of justifications for behavior. And just to be clear, so that if we meet in less than great circumstances you don't think I am automatically analyzing you, well, I guess I am- it's a bad habit I have, but, in my defense, I am usually trying to find the silver lining, not vilify.

Unless they are certain people who those close to me know I can't stand- those people are just self-centered and mean.

So in fiction, do we need or want to know all the backstory, the why behind the things the characters do? Or do we want to simply watch the action unfold and infer the rest. I am trying hard to live this way-in the moment, not always looing back, so I should try to write this way. I think it will work much better for this particular story.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I rode Tucker yesterday, after a spell on the Wonderpony. This time, things were much better. I lunged him, then got on and we took a lovely stroll around the farm. I was still nervous, countering my tension with talking. Tucker looked around a bit, but was obedient and relaxed.

My over-reaction and fear made me think a lot about what has been bugging me lately. Because this fear, while at its height while I am riding, lurks within always. It pervades my social interactions: am I making an ass of myself?(which I probably am, but so are others) or am I offending anyone? (if I am, and they don't tell me, is it my responsibility to read their mind? No.)

I have apprehension about my decisions in life. Not Mr.W., but more about my current jobless state. I have a friend who has repeatedly told me, "If you need a job, go find a job. Even if it is at the local deli." Not really what I want to hear. Where is that brilliant career, that makes lots of money and changes the world for the better? Right.
Ok. I'm a bit delusional.

With riding, the conclusion I have come to is simple. I am afraid of falling. It hurts.

And writing, well, I've been working on it. I have a short story in the works, and some chapter outlines for a memoir. The issue with that is, by definition, a memoir is a narcissitic undertaking, and I dread the day when I write something that reminds me of Eat, Pray, Love. Though I guess that fear is unfounded since: A)I wouldn't cheat on my husband then bitch about him contesting the divorce. Oh, but I could write that from the other side... B)I don't meditate. Though Ms. Gilbert wasn't very good at it either. And I think I could learn without going to India. C) Most important, no one is paying me to dump my emotional garbage into thousands of bookstores and, subsequently, movie theaters.

I spew it out there for free.

I admit there is a wee bit of envy here. And, I'll hand it to her, Elizabeth Gilbert doesn't seem to have much fear. Except in committing to a relationship. I have her beat there.

And I still would love to find a small way to change the world. I could always try to write about war victims in the Congo. Except that I don't know any. I'm sure my family and friends would fully support an expedition there. After all, they only kill roughly 45,000 people a month, rape the women, or take them as "wives" if only as a horrid loophole, and force ten-year-old boys to fight for causes they cannot understand.

My sister wants to go to Africa...

Guess I am not that different, from Elizabeth Gilbert. That could be part of my dislike; she represents that part of myself that is white, middle-class, educated, and feels entitled to unadulterated happiness. Not the happiness that comes from new shoes (though I do love shoes), but the kind of fulfillment from being content and comfortable with who you are and the life you lead.

It's about choices. The kind of choices I am afraid to make.

I think, it is at this point that I must remind myself of a woman I graduated with, a woman I am humbled and proud to have called a friend. She has been profiled in Newsweek for the work she has done to educate women in Afghanitan, her home.

Before graduation, she spoke to me and another friend, about her experiences. Of how a small school, really a collection of tents in a remote village, was burned by the Taliban. After the destruction, the girls gathered to learn, salvaging a few chairs and some books, carrying them to a nearby tree, the only available shelter. Beneath this scraggly shade, the girls continued their lessons. The bravery of the students humbled my friend.

Because of her mission to promote female education in the most radical parts of Afghanistan, she is in mortal danger when she returns home. "Aren't you scared?" we asked.

"No." She went on to tell us that her Muslim faith gives her comfort."No one can take my life unless it is God's plan. And if that is what God wants, there is nothing I can do about it."

I'm not there, yet. I doubt I will ever have that much faith and certainty. And I am not sure that I will ever give myself so completely to bettering humanity. I will always be somewhere in between. I'm going to start small, conquering my little fears. But it gives me something to strive for.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


As you may recall, I was spectacularly bucked off by Gil a few weeks ago, an event that played a large roll in the arrival of Tucker. Now that Tucker is all settled in, I have started riding him. And he is as wonderful as I expected. Barring a few technical issues, like bridle fitting-he has a dainty head- we were off and running, so to speak.

Once we fixed those little details, I headed out to the area that serves as my riding ring. It is unfenced and grassy, though the remnants of footing poke through the weeds. There used to be a fenced round ring there, right next to the indoor arena, which is all gone. No trace remains except the sandy ground. Yeah, I try not to dwell on the fact that there was a beautiful, large indoor ring. Sigh.

Anyway, Tucker and I strolled out to ride. My other boys ran back and forth along the fence, calling out to thier new friend. Tucker looked at them a bit, ears pricked and curious. He then glanced at the neighbor's two driving ponies who had trotted over to their fence to watch.

Tucker and I picked up a trot, did some circles, then walked a bit. He dawdled around on a loose rein. I shifted in the saddle and Tucker picked up speed, breaking into a a trot and acting like he was ready to canter. Now this was not a disobedience, it is usually the normal progression of a ride. You walk a bit, then trot, then move into a canter. He was trying to anticipate what I wanted. When I asked him to stay at the trot, Tucker obliged. He's a good boy.

This is where my problem lies. I was scared. As soon as Tucker began to move underneath me, my whole body tensed. Horses are sensitive creatures. They can feel a fly anywhere on their body. Tucker had to feel the tightness that spread from my arms, to my chest, through my abdomen, seat and legs. His head came up and his stride shortened, a sure sign of tension. But he did nothing. No buck, no stop. He simply did his job.

Today, I got on again, determined to relax and enjoy the ride. Same drill, though this time I took a lunge line and had him work in circles around me before I decided to get on. Tucker was fine. He trotted over poles, walked, cantered. No problem. Until I got on. Again, Tucker did nothing to warrant my fear. He was an angel.

But the fear was there.

So much in fact, that I rode around for a very short bit and dismounted. I was shaking. I cried because it felt like failure. I have been riding regularly since the Gil incident, but I have been riding a pony. And when Jake the Wonderpony does something naughty (and he occassionally does) I tense up, but relax quickly. When I first tried Tucker in Vermont, I was nervous. Not terrified.

This fear with Tucker is devastating. And, of course, I overanalyze it. Part of it is riding in the field alone, part of it is that Tucker is not a pony, and he is a Thoroughbred. He is nothing like Gil. But my body does not seem to accept that fact. It's like being possessed. And it is the reason Tucker is perfect for me right now.

I am determined to conquer it. I understand what happened with Gil; in the big picture it wasn't that bad. My ego and my hip were bruised. It is simply amazing at the fearful resonance that remains. It is unconscious and unexpected.

I have a plan. I am going to make either Mr. W or a friend ride Cosmo. I can take Tucker to ride at my friend's farm, where there are always others around. I got through the other stuff, this should be a cakewalk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Thundercloud Returns

My sister's first text today was about going to my next melanoma check up. She offered to go with me if I needed her to. The hospital usually sends me a proposed time, but they have not yet. I wasn't sure if that was because I had moved, or that I need to schedule with them from now on. I was going to text her back, but the vet was coming this morning to check out a couple of things with the horses.

I headed to the barn. The vet came and gave Tucker some vaccines to protect him from the nasties here that aren't prevalent in VT. No problem. Next,she checked out Gil, who had been lame for about two weeks. Diagnosis? He has a bruise or abcess. Oh, and he's a whimpy freak. Long story, which I will write about later.

On to Cosmo, my good doober. About two years ago, he had a large lump removed from his tail. It came off easily and when my vet sliced into it, she knew without a doubt that it was melanoma; it was black as tar. After my own experience with skin cancer, it was facinating to see what this disease looked like; its appearance is as evil as the disease. With horses, there aren't many treatment options beyond excision. Cosmo and I went on our merry ways. His tail looked funny, but otherwise he was fine.

About a month ago, I was washing his tail and felt a lump. This one was different from the first; rather than bubbling off the skin, this one was embedded within the muscle of his tail. As I ran my hands up toward the base, I felt another. And another.
There were about four that day. A week later I noticed the one near the top of his tail had grown. Over the next few days, another growth appeared beneath the skin of his haunch.

Then they stopped. For the past few weeks, there have been no changes in the existing growths and no new tumors have appeared. I wanted them looked at when the vet came today, but I almost didn't.

Ignorance is bliss.

Without biopsies, but with some certainty, Cosmo has malignant melanoma. Now, if Cosmo had been a grey horse, the worry would be lessened. Grey horses get melanomas more frequently than horses of other colors. And they are usually benign. In horses of other shades, melanoma is almost always metestatic. Cosmo is chestnut.

Rationally, I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent this; there is nothing I can do to stop it. We cannot predict the progression of the disease. He could be fine for three years or he could be gone in months.

I can't help but think of the horrible irony.

When I was recovering from my melanoma surgery, my horse died of colic. I remember looking out at his body, covered by a horse blanket, laying out in the riding ring where we had him euthanized. I was waiting for a call from the surgeon. They had done a sentinal node biopsy, the results of which would indicate the extent to which my melanoma had spread, if it had at all.

The phone rang. The results were back. My lymph nodes were clear; the melanoma had not spread.

I called my mother and told her the good news, though I was still heartbroken about the loss of Cecil (his show name was "Wonders Never Cease." Hmmm...) Her reply stung. "He saved you. I don't know how else to say it, but he died so you could live."

I was so angry with her; what she had said sounded so religious, but also uncharacteristically hokie coming from my medically clinical mother. So I called my best friend, Melissa, who was suffering from her own form of cancer. I told her my biopsy was clean and that Cecil had died. I hadn't vented about my mom, yet.

"Wow," she said, "he took it for you. I love my dog, but I wish she loved me enough to do that for me."

My sister repeated the sentiments of my mom and Melissa when I texted her about Cosmo.

"These horses keep taking it for you."

I am left wondering. I am five years clean. Any examinations and tests I have in the future are strictly voluntary. And my life is a fairy tale right now.

Without giving into the doom and gloom mentality I used to have- about nothing good happening in my life without horrific consequential echoes-I will accept that these things happen. Cosmo is happy right now. I can still ride him and treat him normally, though I will have to watch for signs that the tumors have spread to vital organs. Who knows? They may slow down or stop. There are no guarantees. And you can't just sit and wait for trouble.

Realistically and rationally, Cosmo's disease has no relation to the good things in my life; I'm not sure karma works that way.

But I will be calling to make an appointment with my oncologist, just in case.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello, Tucker!

Yesterday, I brought home a horse. No, not the one I wasted hours and hours shopping for, but a very nice free lease. Which means I get to borrow him for a few months. When that time is up, I either need to buy him, send him home, or help the woman who owns him to sell him. For now, he is exactly what I need.

Though I am in love with a beautiful three-year-old stallion who lives in Florida...

Anyway, it was a marathon to bring Tucker home. Got up, let our dogs out, got dressed, fed the dogs, brought them inside, then went out to the garage and fed the dogs I am taking care of for a friend, let them out, then crated them again. After that was done, Mr Wonderful and I walked to the barn, fed my ponies, turned them out, and loaded ourselves into the truck to head North.

Luckily, I was smart enough to hook the truck and trailer up the night before. Sometimes the brain works well.

We drove three hours to my mother's farm in Vermont and loaded up my small collection of homemade and hand-me-down jumps. They did fill the back of the truck and the jump poles (look out Gil I have more! Ha ha ha!) stuck up about eighteen inches over the truck roof making the whole ensemble a bit hillybillyish. Some of those poles are heavy! I'm not sure that was what Mr. W. had in mind for his day off, but, after all, he does want to marry me, shouldn't he know by now what my idea of fun is?

Poor man.

All loaded up, we filled the gas tank, grabbed some snacks and soda, and were on our way back South. Another forty-five minutes later, we pulled into where we were picking up Tucker. His owner was waiting with a mixture of happiness and sorrow. We wrapped Tucker for the ride. He knew something was up, but stood quietly and followed me out to the waiting trailer with his ears pricked. His owner led him onto the trailer. He went on with little fuss and started to paw when we took too long to say goodbye.
While we cooed and put voices to Tucker's antics- "Aw, he really wants to go," or "See, he's really nervous about the trailer," Tucker himself was probably thinking about grass or rolling in the shavings that padded the trailer floor. Who knows?

I think humans try to attach too many of our own feelings to our pets and especially horses. I'm not sure if this is related to the estrogen levels in most horse people, or if it is a wish to relate more closely to such a noble creature. And to a ridiculous degree- I know people that hire "pet psychics' or animal communicators to help them better understand their animals. I've never gone that far, but I've been tempted. Haven't I, Gil??? But guilty as charged on the rest.

The reality is, that Tucker didn't have much of a say in the matter. He was coming home with me, so we loaded him up and away we went. He seemed pretty content for the ride. He didn't paw or jump around- and yes, you can feel it when they do- 1200 pounds can make trailers do some funky things. When I stopped to check on him about halfway home, he was eating hay, looking around, and pretty relaxed. Phew. It may be misguided, but I do want Tucker to like me.

Three hours and change after Tucker placed hoof on trailer ramp, we arrived home. Ahhh...

Oh crap, we didn't do stalls this morning. And we still have to unload, unhitch, and the dogs have been cooped up all day.

Whose bright idea was this? Oh, yeah. Mine.

We got it done. And pretty quickly. Though backing the trailer into its new home was a bit of a chore. I backed it through a gate, past my truck, which I should have moved, tried not to hit the apple tree or take out my buckets of flowers, avoided crashing into the garage or the sheep barn and pushed it around a 90 degree corner into its spot.

Mr. W. tried to offer advice and I tried not to be testy. It's a fault within me that whenever I am concentrating really hard on a task, I hate commentary. Even if it is helpful. If I am backing up the trailer through a maze, unless I am about to crash, silence is golden. Unless, of course, you want to do it yourself. He just laughed at that.

I was more annoyed that I could't get the trailer parked straight. And that I repeatedly claimed that my truck and trailer wouldn't fit in that spot. No way, no how. Right. They fit with room to spare. Again, he laughed.

We got the back of the truck unloaded, put the truck away, gave the horses one last pat, let both sets of dogs out, and finally got to eat dinner. Amazingly, Mr. W. is still speaking to me. In fact, he seemed to have enjoyed the whole expedition.

Now, I have one more stall to do, but I couldn't be happier. I have a horse who is perfect for what I need. No bucking, no breathing issues, no crazy baggage. Tucker is a sweet boy who likes to jump, doesn't spook, and is simply a really nice horse.

The one drawback is that I don't have an excuse to horse-shop. Sigh.

Guess I'll have to move on to wedding dresses...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Dreams and Memory

Lately, I've been dreaming about my mother. The dreams revolve around the minutia of my new life, with her presence- a kind of alternative reality, a what if? possibility. Though my relationship with her was challenging, I am comforted by these nocturnal reunions. My father is frequently with her. That is an added relief.

I struggle with what these dreams could mean. Are they a not-so-subconscious wish for those who are gone to share in my current happiness? Could they be a communication from beyond the limits of life? Is it connected to the fact that recently, I have often seen young girls who resemble Melissa? Am I being haunted? Or do I haunt myself?

I don't know, but the issue is more about my mother, who was difficult and forceful, more like the stereotypical male provider than a nurturing homemaker. My father represented hearth and sensitivity to my sister and me. There are wounds there that I will not reopen now.

But back to my mother.

After all the material I included in my thesis profile of her, where I focused on her trials, successes, and overwhelming drive, where I learned more about the woman who ruled my life, the woman whose approval I craved as much as resented turned out to be the victim of hurts and disappointments so much like my own, there are a few things I regret that I left out.

There is one memory I have of her that is special, but like my recent dreams, it is indistinct and probably owes as much to fantasy as fact. It is my most cherished.

I was very young, perhaps four or five. We had gone for a walk in Valley Green, a part of Philadelphia's vast Fairmount Park. (I can almost hear my sister exclaiming, 'What?' at this early point in the story, because it is not something my mother would normally have done.) I distinctly remember walkng along one of the smaller paths, stepping over the rocks that pushed through the hardened dirt, brushing back leaves, and the excitement of finding the reward at the end of the path. Through the distortion of time, it is the details I remember, not the destination or the whim behind this uncharacteristic hike.

The details are precious.

We got lost. Somewhere along the trail we had missed a turn and were far past the unremembered destination. The afternoon was fading into early evening; it must have been mid-summer or late spring, the air had the hint of coming night despite the bright, slowly lowering sun. We kept walking and my mom encouraged me (more likely badgering or sharply demanding) to keep going, but I was young and tired.

At this point I should probably expand on the fact that I was a demanding and boisterous child. Ok. I was a loud and spoiled brat. And my mother was not warm and fuzzy. She was tiny, barely five-foot tall and not more than one hundred pounds. In fact, she would become concerned about her weight if she went over that century mark, she was not anorexic; she never starved herself. And I think, at this point in her life she was heavier than usual, maybe a whopping one-ten.

When I collapsed in a tantrum, declaring that I could not walk one more step, my mother offered something unique. She gave me a piggy-back ride.

We were a long way from the car, but my mother carried me the whole way back.

I remember the sharp feel of her shoulder blades against my face, the smell of her peroxide-blonde hair, the pinch of her long fingernails supporting my thighs, and the uneven rocking of her stride as she carried me along the path.

By the time we got back to the car, the sunlight was slanting sharply toward dark. I don't remember what she said or what happened when we arrived home so much later than expected. Those pieces are lost.

I am not even certain that it ever truly happened. It could very well be a vivid dream transformed into memory. I don't think so, because when, years ago while riding my horse in the Park, I came upon a rock-strewn trail and followed memory to a nearly empty parking lot, or, now, when I smell a certain type of greenness in warm summer air, or when the sunlight slants that certain way, I feel bone beneath my cheek and inhale the scent of old shampoo.

The details are precious.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I am uninspired tonight.
Moments unfold, like atoms unravelling into infinity,
unnoticed, yet irretrievable, expiring as I wait for enlightenment.
In spite of my creative desperation
I continue to move ever forward and deeper into time.
Insensitive to my artistic failures, the seconds relentlessly tick forward
into minutes and hours, long after my uncollected thoughts
dissipate into eternity.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Food Fest

It was my birthday today!

I had a great day, which began with a fantastic ride on my friend's pony. I love my own two boys, but Jake the Wonderpony is so much fun.
Then I went to lunch with the friend responsible for setting me up with Mr. Wonderful. We went to a local diner and had heavenly black and white milkshakes-a treat I haven't had since my dad had his sandwich shop! It was like being a kid again, except no one complained about the mixer. The milkshake machine at my dad's store was notorious for randomly deciding to shower the counter(and the person making the shake) with milk, syrup and ice cream chunks.


After an afternoon break where I tried desperately to melt the fake tips from my nails. I failed miserably- does acetone break down after a while?-I ended up cutting them shorter which helps my almost non-existent typing skills. Mr. Wonderful's mother brought me a box of pampering goodies that will really help me feel like a princess-no more chapped barn hands, cracked lips, or winter itchies for me!

I didn't get a chance to call many people, but I was touched by the outpouring of birthday wishes.

Did horse chores, then on to dinner. We went to our favorite restaurant. Ok. I admit, we practically live there.

Ordered a "Passionful Mojito"- my favorite drink. Drank that.

Had a salad.

An entree of duck followed. Divine!

A second mojito.

And to top it off, a creme brulee, complete with candle and singing. Simply lovely.

You would think that the evening ended there, but no, we sat socializing for a while. Friends came and went, new friends sat at the bar, bringing lively conversation as the regular patrons trickled out the door. The staff began the process to set up for closing. The night was winding down. Until...

A personal-sized devils food chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream came round the corner complete with candle and singing.

Dessert deja-vu.

Yes, I ate it.

And I wonder why my clothes don't fit anymore. Yikes! I think dress shopping has now been pushed back for a month, but I'll worry about that when I wake from the food coma.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mean People Suck

Recently, I finished a book called Little Bee and it was brilliant. It is the kind of book I would dream of writing, but never expect to in this lifetime. When I try to pinpoint exactly what about this novel captivates me, I can't.
It is beautiful. And tragic.
It reminds me of the visceral reaction I used to have as a child when I saw Peter Paul Ruben's painting, Prometheus Bound. The first time I saw it I had turned a corner and come to it head on. It loomed above me, huge, and gorgeously detailed-tragically beautiful.

Prometheus Bound 1610 11 - - Large

Little Bee is like that.

Without giving much of the book away, I must admit, it's subject matter made me think of something an new acquaintance said not too long ago.

"People are mean. I don't like most of them."

Sadly, that seems all too true. Books and movies can horrify us with their depictions of dergradation and cruelty, but these do not compare to what humans do to each other in reality. Holocaust, genocide, jihad, ethnic cleansing, the list goes on...Serbia, 9/11, Darfur, Gaza, the Congo, countless wars...

And over what? Diamonds, mineral resources, oil, water, power, religion?

I cannot fathom what it takes to treat another being as a piece of meat or worse. I do understand rage. At times in my life, red-visioned wrath has been something I nurtured. I was not a nice child. I was angry and hurt and very good at lashing out, but I never considered killing another. I wonder, is it an animalistic throwback- a kind of cat-like cruelty- to play with our prey, maim it and chase it, before dispatching it? Most animals don't prey upon their own kind. But I have never seen an animal comtmeplate and devise methods to create pain and suffering the way humans have. We are sometimes too smart for our own good.

If you look at the evidence, people are, indeed, in a nutshell, mean.

But then I must look at most of the people I know. I don't consider them mean. In fact, there are so many I have met who are kind and considerate of their fellow man. The bad eggs are far outnumbered by the good. So why does it seem otherwise in the larger picture? Is hummanity measured by our ability to dominate or our capacity to empathize?

Most of the good people I know have been the victim of cruelty in some form or another. Does victimization create compassion? God, I hope not.

Now I am not professing that we all become extreme Buddhists, though I do admire them, most of us fall somewhere in a gray zone, but I desperately want to believe that we are closer to kindness than cruelty. It feels naive to say that.

I don't expect answers to these questions and they are heavy musing for late on the eve of my birthday. Perhaps the power of Little Bee is that it made me think on these things and like a ripple on water, the thought spreads and grows outward, and outward...

On to the Next Adventure

I've been scolded that my blog has been neglected, so I am back. But in my defense it's been a bit of a crazy time.

It's amazing to me, that even without a job, or school, or the pressures of taking care of the farm, that my days still seem overfull. I'm sure that is a major time-management deficiency on my part.

Anyway, the next adventure is looming. Two weeks ago, Mr. Wonderful surprised me with a lovely, sparkly adornement for my left-hand ring-finger. My initial reaction, as he knelt upon one knee, shaking like a leaf in a hurricane, holding the black box up was a very loud, "HOLY SHIT!"

I know, I'm such a keeper.

Of course, I said yes. And since that moment, all I can say is the train has left the station. And it's a supersonic.

The past two weeks have been a wonderful blur. I don't recall ever feeling so lucky and loved. His parents are absolutely amazing and they have welcomed me into their family with such genuine affection they made my emotionally-defensive-grinch-like heart melt.
We've even survived the meeting of families without drama (or bloodshed).
I am truly living in fantasy land and I feel like a princess.

I've even found the perfect horse to free lease! What could be better?

The only thing holding me back is an archaic Protestant ethic that lurks in the back of my conscience saying, "yes, it is all wonderful, but did you earn it?"
How does one earn or deserve someting like this?

I don't know.

I sound like I am almost bitching about my good fortune. I am not. I just doubt my worthiness. That is the root of my internal struggle, created from a murky soup of personal baggage, family issues, and insecurities. It comes and goes. I guess all I can do is keep trying to do the best I can, keep enjoying every wonderful day, and strive to find a mental place where I can take joy in this fantastic reality.

There is plenty to keep me occupied: a wedding to plan, things to write, ponies to ride, barn chores, dogs, cats, snakes, fish, figuring out how to type with fake nails, using that coupon for the personal trainer, yoga (after all, there is a roll of blubber around my middle that needs to go before I try on dresses!), job hunting, more writing, tent people to talk to, bands to investigate, colors to choose, guest lists to write, removing the horrid color from my toenails without ruining the fake nails(how do people function with them?), dealing with the insurance company- still, and the pressure to think up something witty to say for the chosen few who might read this blog.

Most importantly, I intend to trash the angst and get on the train and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Confessions of a Horse Obsessed Woman

I should be writing.

Still, I find myself spending hours searching online for the perfect horse.

Yes, it is true that two hay-burners chew and sigh contentedly in the barn and I love them deeply. They make me smile every day. Though maybe not yesterday when the phone rang early in the morning. "Your horses are in the barn here. Could you come get them? Bring lead shanks."

Sigh. At least they had fun.

My current horse problem is rooted in my love of competition. And neither of my ponies is suitable for the horse shows. Well, maybe Gil, but I have been asked repeatedly NOT to get on him again after our rodeo experience. He has so much baggage. It is ind of like being in a relationship with an emotionally dammaged partner- their problems become yours and take years of therapy to overcome.

Or you cut your losses and move on.

Cosmo is my "good doober." If I could clone him, I would- ok, technically cloning is possible, but realistically I could buy a really nice horse for what that costs.

Cosmo's issues are: he is older, he has a few creaky joints, and some odd growths in his tail, but he loves to go and they do not impede him. No, unfortunately, Cosmo is a "roarer." His larynx is partially paralyzed, so when he breathes fast, the limp flap falls across his windpipe, cutting his intake by more than half. In spite of this disability, Cosmo would give his all, just not in a show ring. He is my trail buddy, completely safe and comfortable. I trust him implicitly.

However, there is a brand new, tags still on, show coat bought in 2003 hanging in my closet. Yes, it has been that long.

I am also riding a friend's pony, who is wonderful, helping me break years of bad habits and making me a much better rider. Everyone tells me to be patient and wait for the "right" horse.

Patience is not my strong point.

So I lurk online, gazing at countless horses, waiting for that moment when the insurance company settles and I am financially ready to actually buy the perfect horse.

Horses are my drug of choice. They distract me from what I should be doing- when i am not with them, I think about them. Like potato chips, I want just one more. I finish riding, then a few hours later want to do it again. The perfect ride keeps me happy for days, a bad one and I spend days analyzing what went wrong. (I dream of getting through to Gil)

I think I need rehab.

Or a good swift kick in the ass.