I have to say this out loud

I need to get this out of my system. Ahem.

I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK TOMORROW.

Yes, I know.  No one does.   But I don’t want to get up at an ungodly early hour and have to catch up on emails and find out that I have to be a bit more sales-y in this new job that I’m comfortable with.  I don’t want to hear about which customer had a problem with the new thing they asked for and is spitting mad and won’t pay for the next thing they want.  I’m okay with the part of my job that deals with software development.  I’m not okay with the part of my job that deals with clients.  I think that’s going to be a problem, and I should do something about it.  But.

I DON’T WANT TO DO IT TOMORROW.

Okay, then.  At least it’s a short week.

Breaking habits

We went out for New Year’s Eve last night, back to that arcade bar we like.  The DJ played 20s music with techno beats (which was kind of awesome, actually), and more than half of the games (Mario Bros, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Tron, Asteroid, Pacman, Missile Command, some racing game, some of the pinball games, others I can’t remember) were set to free play, so we drank and played and danced until midnight and then walked ourselves home.

I can’t remember the last New Year’s Eve we were out.  Like, OUT, out.  In public, with people we don’t know.  That’s not how we do New Year’s Eve.  Last year, we rang the new year in at Emily and Sean’s house, with them and Molly.  The year before that, we were at home with Jess and Chuck, and the seven? eight? more? years before that, we were at home in Ashburn with most of our friends over.  That was before we became the total hermits we are now.  We used to have actual grown-up parties at our house with food and drinks and friends.  I used to throw Derby parties and New Year’s Eve parties, have the occasional cookout, host Friendsgiving (maybe that was only once…)…  Now, I think about all of that and wonder how I did it.  I’m not a natural hostess.  It feels like a completely different life.  Fun, but far from how I feel now, which is totally weird because it hasn’t been that long.

Eh, that’s enough navel-gazing for New Year’s Day.

In case there was any doubt about how I prefer to spend my time

End of the year musings?  Sure, let’s be like everyone else.

There are plenty of reasons to call 2016 the worst year in recent history (TRUMP and the untimely deaths of Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, and so on), but personally it wasn’t so bad.  It feels like forever ago, but we moved to OR in 2016, John got his rec pilot’s license, he’s in a band, I’m riding, Emily had a baby, Corey and Christine got engaged, and I got a new job (same company) that lowered my work stress by 50% at least.

I discovered Temeraire and Captain Laurence and time-traveling historians and the Others and a ton of other new books and series to love and…WOW.  Well, I have to declare 2016 a good year for me, despite the rest of the world, because I read nearly twice as many books this year as I did last year and four times as many as I read in 2013.  (There are advantages to keeping a book list.)  Yay for more reading time!

More rescheduling is needed

Today is our anniversary (16 years), but we’re going to postpone it for at least day.  Or maybe just extend it?  Whatever works.  We got up at 4am this morning, drove to the airport, got on flight 1 of 2 (which I slept through – yay exhaustion), had a quick layover in Minneapolis, and then got on flight 2 of 2 to Portland.  We got home around 4:30 (which felt like 7:30), then had to run back out to the store for milk so we can have tea tomorrow because neither of us is 100% yet.  Actually, I’m a total mess (although I think I feel better overall).  I look like I’m about to turn zombie.  I went to Urgent Care Tuesday afternoon because the bottom half of my left eye is solid red, and after about 30 seconds (if that), the doctor I saw announced I have pinkeye and prescribed antibiotic drops.  I’m taking them even though I’m not convinced I have pinkeye or that it’s not the viral kind, but they’re making the skin under my eye yellow like a fading bruise, so actually, I look like a zombie who’s being abused by her spouse.  This is how I traveled today.  With my glasses on, of course.  No contacts allowed right now.  I might be going back to my own doctor tomorrow.

Anyway, today isn’t a good day to celebrate our anniversary because of the zombie problem and the travel exhaustion, so we’ll try again tomorrow.  Tonight we’re having pie for dinner and watching A Royal Night Out and then sleeping until a train wakes us up.

Still hoping for a miraculous recovery

Apparently I don’t get to feel better this trip.  My stomach has begun to make known its unhappiness with a steady diet of sinus meds and ibuprofen, but I can’t stop taking the meds or my head will explode.

I had coffee with Jess this morning (she drove up from Annapolis to say hi).  I was okay for most of that, but then I alarmed everyone at Panera when I caught my breath weirdly and raced for the bathroom so I could cough up my lung, which seemed to have put down roots in my right foot.  (There was some deep, loud, awful-sounding coughing is what I’m saying.  The walls in the bathroom shook.)  So then I came back out, all red-faced and puffy-eyed, and she took me back to the house.  Everyone was getting ready to go walk around downtown Frederick (which I’m sure looks lovely all decorated for the holidays), but I bowed out.  I’m inside, hanging out with the snoring dog, about to start snoring myself.  A nap may do me good.  (It did yesterday.  I don’t take enough naps.)

Don’t volunteer to navigate for a car full of loud talkers

I don’t even know how to start this.  Let’s see.  We’re in Maryland for Christmas this year instead of Pennsylvania because Emily and Sean had Graham in September, and they volunteered to host rather than make another trip to PA.  (Apparently, they’ve been up there every other weekend since the baby was born.)  As a treat for the whole family (and to use up some of their Marriott elite rewards), John’s parents (Pat and John) took us all to spend the night at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, which is one of those crazy big fancy hotels with a giant atrium and beautiful facilities and a big ice-carving show.  We got our own rooms (a break from being on top of each other in Emily’s house), had dinner out, saw the ice-carving thing (they gave us parkas to wear OVER our coats because they keep the ice-carving exhibit at 9 degrees), and watched this garish, over-the-top, totally tacky and totally fun light and music show in the atrium.

Getting there, though, was a bit difficult.  We were in two cars – Emily, Sean, and the baby in their car, and me, Molly, and John in the backseat of his parents’ car.  The hotel is right off the beltway, in MD south of DC, first exit after the Woodrow Wilson bridge if you’re coming from VA.  John’s dad was driving, his mom had shotgun, and in the backseat, John was behind his dad, Molly was on the hump in the middle, and I was behind their mom.  I was in charge of directions, which was unfortunate yesterday.  Just as we were getting off the highway, when the directions were like “Keep left to stay on X” then “keep left to stay on X”, then “get on the ramp towards I-95S”, but don’t get on the highway, “keep left to stay on X” – so, repetitive and slightly confusing – Pat told John to call Emily to find out where she was.  She had parking questions, so John was talking to Emily and Pat, Pat was yelling advice to Emily (on John’s phone), Molly was in the middle fuming about how Emily should just unload already and park since we’re checking in and why is this conversation even happening?, and I was trying to provide John’s dad with the admittedly confusing directions across and on top of all this noise.

I was not successful.

We ended up back on the highway.  Then we took the exit again to get to the hotel, tried to follow similar (but slightly different) confusing directions, and ended up on the highway AGAIN, because all of the previous conversations were STILL going on and John’s dad couldn’t hear me AND I couldn’t see very well so I couldn’t direct effectively.  After we got on the highway a THIRD time, I had resigned myself to spending all night on 495, with the hotel in view but forever out of reach.

Thankfully, John VII hadn’t given up yet, and he was able to get everyone to shut the hell up long enough to make the correct turns and get us there.

Here was the view from our balcony (we had a balcony):

img_20161223_171647-1

Deep thoughts on Christmas Eve

Molly’s t-shirt says “BILLIEVE”.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean.  I think it’s “BILLIEVE” instead of “BELIEVE”, and not “BILLI-EVE”, like some sort of conflation of two names, but both options are equally nonsensical to me, so it could go either way.  I’m also pretty sure it’s a Penn State shirt, but that doesn’t get me any closer to what it means.  If it’s a Penn State shirt, then it’s probably sports-related, probably football-related, and there’s probably a coach or a quarterback or whatever whose name is Bill.

Eh. I could Google it.  I could ask Molly.  I don’t care that much, but I am interested in finding out just how long I can stare quizzically at Molly before she finally asks me what the hell is going on.

Can we postpone Christmas until I feel better?

You know what’s not cool?

  • Being sick
  • Being sick on vacation
  • Being sick on vacation in someone else’s house
  • Being sick on vacation in someone else’s house with the sneaking suspicion that the “surprise” planned for tonight involves a night out in a big shopping area with a big Christmas tree and a stay in a hotel

This isn’t even the first time I’ve been sick on Christmas at someone else’s house and thank GOODNESS I’m not as sick this time as I was the last time.  Last time, John and I spent the morning of Christmas Eve at Urgent Care.  This time, I’m hopefully (cross your fingers) over the hump, but I’m still congested and coughing and dealing with a sore throat and taking medicine every four hours.  I’m keeping my distance from the baby and drinking ALL the water (there won’t be any water left in Maryland by the time I leave – I’m working on draining the Chesapeake Bay) and trying to be more fun than I feel.

I’m hoping for a miracle.  ‘Tis the season!

Reading bliss

I FINALLY bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and I got the BEST case for it, and I am VERY happy.  My poor Samsung tablet was dying and couldn’t make the long plane trips anymore, and every time I got unlucky and got a seat without an outlet (like on 7 out of the last 8 flights I’ve taken), it died on me midflight.  I was packing backup physical books in my carry-on to make sure I wouldn’t be left without reading material, and you know?  That stuff gets heavy.

Now I have a Paperwhite (so does John), and I’m a happy camper.

kindle

REAL winter vacation

For the first time in YEARS, I’m about to take a vacation and NOT THINK ABOUT WORK.  I am not responsible for any kind of support team.  I’m not responsible for any people.  I’m not responsible for making sure any help desks have coverage.  I am actually able to take this time off and NOT THINK ABOUT WORK.  The only other times I’ve managed that, I’ve had to leave the country.

This is going to be great!  (If only I weren’t sick.)  It’ll be great!

Blur

I took an official sick day yesterday.  It started right – I had a 7am meeting, but it was only half an hour, and then I went back to bed until almost noon.  Of course, things were happening, and I ended up working a couple of hours total throughout the day.  In the afternoon, I got the oil changed in the car (desperately needed to be done), and I braved the post office to mail a package.  I rested the other hours.

I’m not very good at sick days, but we’re leaving town tomorrow, and stuff needed to get done.  I have never felt so uneasy about getting on a plane (congestion plus the additional pressure?  shudder).

Much as I want to, I am not going to sit here and complain about every symptom.  I’m better during the day, and it’s daytime now, so I’m going to focus on the things that need to get done while I’m capable of doing them.  Like…a couple of work things I can’t leave undone and PACKING.  Mostly packing.

Things I’d like to try

If money and time were no object, I would at least try everything in this list.  And continue the things I’ve started.  And still make time for all the reading.  Basically, I would not be bored.

  • Drawing/sketching
  • Painting?  Maybe
  • Dancing – all types
  • Horseback riding – all types
  • Piano lessons
  • French lesson
  • Welsh lessons
  • Ukulele lessons
  • Guitar?  Maybe
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Sky-diving
  • Probably lots of other things I can’t think of right now

I need to hurry up and win the lottery.

Learning quickly

My horseback riding lesson is the highlight of each week.  I started on Willow, learning to catch her, groom her, saddle her, etc.  Around week 4 or 5, I switched to Tigger, a younger and occasionally more difficult horse.  He has opinions, and I’m learning how to show his stubborn ass that I’m in charge.  I switched back and forth between the two for a few weeks, re-learning how to post, learning two-point (prep for jumping), and trotting courses through and around the jumps in the arena, with all the horizontal poles on the ground so I could get better at directing the horse where I want him to go.

All of that was going well, and I was really enjoying it.  Then one day, lesson #9 I think, I had just finished a course with the poles on the ground, and then Wilhemina (name changed to protect the innocent) set one of the jumps up to one foot and said, “How do you feel about jumping today?”

SUPER EXCITED was the answer.  So I did, and it was awesome.

jump-one-foot-high

The middle of that X is a foot off the ground.

From there, she set up all the jumps like that, and my courses around the arena have included LOTS of jumping, and I just can’t tell you how much fun it is.  (Hint: SO MUCH FUN!)

A couple of weeks ago (lesson #11, maybe), she had me pick up the speed a little so Tigger starts to canter when he lands the first jump, and the week after that (or maybe it was the end of that week?) I could canter the whole course (starting after the first jump).  It’s incredible.

So then this week, she was describing the course she wanted me to take, no different than the others that I noticed.  She had me going over two jumps straight down one long side of the area, making a wide turn, and then taking the jump at the far corner on the way back and angling diagonally across the arena to another jump, then stopping at her end.  It’s about half the course and pretty typical of what we’ve been doing.  I did the long side, took the one in the corner on the way back, and when I was about a horse-length in front of the last one, my brain went HOLY SHIT THAT ONE IS HIGHER.

It looked kind of like this one, except not nearly as picturesque.  No uprights on either side, just kind of a dirty white low wall.

jump-two-feet-high

The jump went fine, and weirdly, it didn’t feel any higher than the other jumps, which is the first thing I said after stopping.  She swears it’s 2 feet high, double the size of the jumps I’m used to.  So then I did it again, and THIS time, it felt higher, which is also the first thing I said when I stopped.  Turns out I’m not crazy or imagining things just because I knew it was higher.  Wilhemina said that the first time we went over it, the distance perfectly matched Tigger’s stride, so he just cantered over it.  The second time, the distance wasn’t perfect, so he jumped it, and yes, I actually went higher that time.

I’m jumping two feet!  Okay, Tigger is jumping two feet, but I’m not falling off!  It’s so cool.

Also, I’m riding Tigger all the time now because he loves to jump, and I guess Willow doesn’t.  It means I get more practice enforcing my will, which is something I really need to be better at.  There was one point last week where we took a jump because he wanted to, not because I wanted to.

This past week was lesson #13, and it’s wonderful, and I love it.

The perfect place to learn

After my super uncomfortable but personally triumphant (because I didn’t shrink into myself and run away) lesson at The Stable That Doesn’t Care, I let a couple of days go by to decompress and then I googled riding in the area. I emailed three new places and left voicemails at one or two more. This time, the email went like this (and at this point, I would take English or Western lessons – I just wanted to learn):

I’m an adult beginner, and I’d like to take riding lessons. I have ridden before, but basically only trail rides. I’d like to learn to ride, take care of a horse – general horsemanship. I’d be happy with one-on-one or class instruction. Either is fine, as long as there actually is some instruction. 🙂 I have found myself in situations where my abilities are assumed, I’ve been left on my own, and I’ve felt somewhat lost. I’d prefer not to go through that again, but I’m sure that’s now how you operate.

If you do teach beginner adults, can you send me some details? What are your rates? And when we could start? I’m usually free after 2:30pm on weekdays and pretty flexible on weekends.

I got two responses pretty quickly, and the second one was PERFECT. The woman who wrote back (we’ll call her Wilhemina) told me everything I needed and wanted to know in her first email back to me. (If only I could get people at work to answer emails so completely.)

Yes, I work with many adult beginners. We would work one on one in the beginning, until you felt confident enough to ride with another rider (this usually takes a while). Our lesson sizes are rarely larger than 2 or 3 – and I only combine riders into a lesson when I think it will actually enhance their learning experience. All of our horses are ridden English, but for those who want the security of a western saddle we do have a couple available to use. Our lessons cover everything from catching and haltering the horse, grooming, riding, horse psychology, and basic care of the horse. Our lessons are $50/lesson.
I have some openings on weekdays at 3pm, and some availability on weekends as well.
If you would be interested in coming out to my stable to meet me and the horses, feel free to let me know what day and time you would like. I live on the property, so I am here pretty much all the time.
I look forward to hearing from you!

I was SO EXCITED to get that email. I made John read it right away (he was equally excited), and I made myself wait a whole hour before I emailed her back. She gave me excellent directions, and I went out to meet her the very next day.

Wilhemina is so great. Super nice, super understanding, about 60 years old. She and her husband bought 30 acres a while back, and now they own and board around 30 horses, and this is all she does. (She told me yesterday she almost never goes out.) She gives lessons and spends the rest of her time working on the place. She doesn’t have any other employees, but some of the boarders and people who have been taking lessons for years help out regularly.

I told her what happened to me – without naming the barn – while we were talking. She was appalled but not surprised, and she guessed which barn right away. Apparently, this is not unusual for them. Coincidentally, she taught Roxanne (trainer who basically ignored me at that barn) how to ride. I spent a pleasant half-hour with Wilhemina, and I set up my first lesson with her for the very next week.

Her feeling is that riding should be fun. The rider and the horse should be having a good time, be relaxed, be there because we want to be. She doesn’t make any money at it – everything she brings in goes right back to her horses – but she loves it. It was obvious within seconds of meeting her that I made the right call to leave the other place and come to her.

I suppose it was inevitable


John has been sick for several days now (a week?), and I have felt fine. I should have known my days were numbered.  Tonight I could feel a sinus headache starting and my throat feels a little scratchy and please PLEASE I don’t want to be sick.

So I took a steamy shower and I’m in bed before 8, hoping to get real sleep. Maybe I can head it off. I’m writing this on my phone because no way am I going back downstairs to get my laptop.

The rest of the horseback riding story will have to wait.

 

I rode a horse and learned something about myself

After we got back from our Florida trip (with all the Harry Potter and Disney World and Star Wars and oh yeah friends and wedding stuff we could wish for), I googled riding lessons in Eugene and left voicemails with trainers at two local stables.  One of them called me back (let’s call her Roxanne), so I told her I’m basically a beginner, that when I was around 12 I spent a couple of weeks at a day camp learning to ride Western, and since then, I’ve gone on maybe half a dozen trail rides spaced every 2-3 years, the last one in 2011 or 2012 (family trip to Georgia).  I told her I’ve never ridden English, but I want to learn.  She told me she has an adult class of beginners of various stripes, I said great, and she said come out next Sunday for the 12:30 class.

My questions for her:

  • What do I need to wear?
  • What do I need to bring?
  • Where should I park?
  • Is there anything else I need to know?

Her answers:

  • Jeans and some kind of boot – no special riding clothes needed
  • Nothing
  • The barn is at the end of the long driveway.  I’ll see other cars.  Park there.
  • No

The class started at 12:30.  She told me to arrive at noon, so around 11:45 I turned into the long driveway, right behind another car.  And boy, was I lucky there was another car turning in just ahead of me.  Turns out there was a gate with a keypad across the top of that driveway.  Would have been nice to know the code.

I parked at one end of a really really really big L-shaped barn.  There was no one outside, no sign.  I poked my head in through a doorway at the end near me and found a couple of guys cleaning stalls.  I said I was here for a class, looking for Roxanne.  They shrugged and pointed down to the other end of the barn, in the middle where the L takes a turn.

When I got down there, I could see the arena, and it looked like a class was going on in there.  Just on this side of the arena, there were 4 or 5 young women milling around an office and the open space in front of the arena, so I kind of asked, generally, if any of them could help me find Roxanne.  One of them said she was in the arena, teaching the class.  Okay – was I supposed to go in there?  Interrupt?  So I said again, generally, I’m here for the 12:30 class.  Is there something I’m supposed to do?  Fill out?  Another one of the women handed me a release form and a pen.  I filled it out and turned around to hand it back, but she was gone.  Does someone in particular need this?  Another woman (maybe the first one?) took it from me and put it in the office.

I should mention here that they were all perfectly nice to me, but distant.  I was not their responsibility.

So then I asked what I should be doing next, and one of them (the first one, or the third one who might also have been the first one) beckoned to a fourth woman and told me that she (Caroline) would help me.  Cool.  My new buddy Caroline came over to me, leaned into the arena, and shouted to Roxanne, who was half the length of the barn away, What horse is Susannah riding?  Once Roxanne was reminded of who I am, she told us to go get Bijou.  So I followed Caroline back up the way I had come, out to where we parked, and over the opposite end of the barn to go get Bijou.  On the way, she asked me about me, I told her how little I knew and what I was after, and she seemed pretty nice, super helpful.

I led Bijou back to the first side of the barn, with Caroline, of course, and when Bijou reared at the sight of a dog bed the barn owner was carrying, I handled it pretty well.  (It freaked me out a bit, but I kept that inside.)  We (and by we, I mean Caroline) got Bijou in the cross-ties, and then Caroline said something about finding her saddle.  Well, for one thing, I don’t know where anything is, and for another, I don’t know what to do with it once I find it.

Caroline helped me get everything I need.  Then Caroline helped me groom Bijou.  Then Caroline helped me saddle Bijou.  Then Caroline helped me put polo wraps on Bijou.  Then Caroline helped me put Bijou’s bridle on her.  All along the way, I thanked her for helping me and apologized for being useless.  I don’t think she realized that I knew NOTHING when she volunteered to help me.

By then it was about 12:30, so I led Bijou down to the arena, and then someone (not Caroline) helped me lead Bijou into the arena and over to a mounting block and helped me get on the horse because I have NEVER MOUNTED A HORSE WITH AN ENGLISH SADDLE BEFORE THAT VERY MINUTE.

So, to start with, Caroline was wonderful and friendly and patient.  Then I looked over at my fellow students, and hey, there’s Caroline!  So no, Caroline doesn’t work at the barn, and no, Caroline doesn’t teach this class, and yes, Caroline helped me out of the goodness of her heart.

I got my first glimpse of Roxanne, the only person I’d seen so far who I was sure actually worked there, after I was on the horse and in the arena.  There were three other women in the class, including Caroline, all ahead of me, but not crazy ahead of me (I can say now in hindsight).

Anyway, the class itself was okay.  Well, no.  In comparison to before and after the class, the class was fine.  Compared to actual lessons I have had since, it was a total waste of time.  During the class, I wasn’t nervous.  During the class, Roxanne had to be reminded that no, I’ve never ridden English before, and yes, the last time I was on a horse was four or five years ago, and YES, I’M A BEGINNER.  She didn’t need the reminder because I wowed her with my skills – she couldn’t SEE my skills (lack of) because she was staring at her phone the whole time.  I spent an hour walking or trotting around the arena, not really learning anything.  Towards the end, she noticed I was holding my reins upside down (how is that even a thing?), and she helped me fix it, but she didn’t really explain in such a way that I knew how to get it right or notice when I got it wrong in the future.

Then the class was over.  The other students disappeared so quickly, and I was left sitting on the horse, by myself in the arena, with Roxanne still staring at her phone on the wall.  The next group of students was coming in, and I’m like, Well, crap.  I guess I have to get off this horse and figure out what happens next.  I managed to get down without embarrassing myself, got Bijou out of the arena, and stopped.  What was I supposed to do next?  Someone (another student) took pity on me and handed me a hoof pick.  Hey, I remember those!  Something to do with standing next to the horse’s leg and picking up each hoof and scraping out the crap that accumulates in there.  Well, I was standing facing the wrong way (you face the back of the horse, not the front) because IT’S BEEN OVER 25 YEARS SINCE I LAST DID IT, so whoever handed me the hoof pick turned me around and helped me out with the first hoof.  That chore done (probably badly because of the lack of supervision or teaching), I brought Bijou back to the cross-ties so I could unsaddle her.

Thankfully, Caroline appeared again, and I used her shamelessly to get everything back off of Bijou and put away.  She asked me if I was comfortable taking Bijou back to her stall (I was) and said she’d meet me right back by the cross-ties so we could clean the tack.

Great.  Cool.  LOVE Caroline.  I was able to get Bijou back in her stall without incident, but when I came back to where I left Caroline, she wasn’t there anymore.  I can’t blame her – it wasn’t her responsibility to help me.  She had gestured in the direction of the arena when she mentioned cleaning the tack, so I picked up Bijou’s bridle (helpfully, it had her name on it) and headed back that way.  There were more people milling around, watching the next class, so I just up and asked someone for help again.  A nice woman, older than the rest, showed me what to do (and then showed me when I did it wrong anyway).  She was the mother of one of the younger students.  Finally, I finished with that and put the bridle…somewhere…and then I leaned on the gate with the mother and a couple of other people to watch the two teenagers practice jumping (which was really really cool).  Eventually, though, I needed to get home, and I hadn’t yet paid for my lesson.  I asked the people near me if anyone in the general area worked here so I could pay someone.  The mother I’d been talking to introduced me to one of the barn’s owners, who asked me if I knew how much I owed.  Are you KIDDING ME?  The website had said it was $45 for a class, so I said yeah, and she said I could just write a check, made out to the stable, and pin it to the bulletin board.

Okay.  Done, I got in the car, drove home, and breathed again.  Then I went round and round for days about whether this completely ridiculous experience was one I should return to (because it can only get better, right?) or if I should find another place to ride.

Now that I’m months away from it, I can be comfortably outraged, but right then, in the moment, I was SO out of place, SO uncomfortable, SO unsure if this was something I could do.  I didn’t want to throw a fit, and I didn’t want to just decide to find a new place because what if every other place was horrible?  What if this is just the world of competitive show-jumping, and there’s no other method for learning to ride English for people who don’t necessarily want to compete?

Now that I’m months away from it, it’s obvious they were terrible (it was obvious then, too, but I was worried about those other things).  They weren’t terrible just to me, the beginner student who needed someone to actually teach her, but to themselves, their barn, and their horses.  Who the hell was I, to be left alone to take care of their very expensive horses?  I could have gotten hurt, I could have hurt the horse, and all of it would have been because they weren’t paying attention.  I kept asking for help, and while I did get it, I didn’t get it from the people who were responsible for helping me.

Did I go back?  Of course not.  Am I riding somewhere else?  Stay tuned again, while I continue the LONGEST STORY EVER.

Just do it already!

I’ve been talking about taking riding lessons for years.  Like, over a decade.  I always put it off because it seemed like a hobby/skill that wouldn’t go anywhere since I’m unlikely to buy a horse.  Guitar lessons?  Sure, we own guitars and it’s a skill I can practice on my own and keep up over time.  French lessons, same thing.  Tap dancing?  Well, it counts as a skill I can practice on my own, even if it has less use than most.  Horseback riding requires, you know, a horse and a place to ride and even if we weren’t planning on moving around a lot, what happens at the end?  Let’s say I get pretty good at riding.  Will I compete?  Almost* certainly not!  Will I own a horse?  Almost* certainly not – WAY too much work.  It’s not something I can practice on my own, so do I just keep laying out money forever?

So I put it off, and then I put it off some more.  And then it had been 10 years, and we’re in Oregon, and I STILL put it off.  And then I met Lindsey, the wife of one of John’s high school friends, at that wedding we went to in August.  Lindsey rides.  Lindsey used to ride competitively.  Lindsey rides English and jumps.  Lindsey teaches riding at a place in Rhode Island.  So I talked to Lindsey all weekend about horses and riding and what she’s done and why she does it and what I know (which is practically nothing) and why I haven’t done it, and she said the same thing John has been saying for years: “What’s the hold-up?  You enjoy it?  Go do it.”  Also, she promised she’d give me advice.  🙂

We got back from our Florida trip Labor Day weekend, and the Sunday after that, I rode a horse.  It was not a good experience.

Stay tuned.

*Never say never.

Some level of talent is necessary

I’ve had voice actors on the brain and in my ears with all the fiction podcasts I listen to, and I noticed the other day that some of these voice actors SUCK at laughing.  On Wolf 359, which I love, only ONE of the actors is any good at making his character’s laughter sound real.  Thankfully, he plays two characters.  When the others laugh, it’s painfully obvious that it’s fake, and one of them is so bad I almost can’t listen.  It’s just as well that that guy plays a minor character AND he’s an uber-bad guy, so I only feel a little bad for not liking him.

I’m judging them for their bad fake laughter, but it’s not like I could do any better.  I don’t think I could be a voice actor.  I feel strange just reading things out loud.  I don’t do voices or accents, although I’d like to, not that either of those are requirements for voice actors.  I suppose I’d get better if I practiced.

I could never be an actor at all, I think.  I mean, the biggest obstacle is that I can’t act.  I can’t say I’ve tried much, but I pretty much suck at it.  And I get weird when someone points a video camera at me.  (Weird in still photos, sure, but WEIRDER on video.)  Not on purpose – I just can’t help it.  Again, though, I imagine practice would help.

Self-motivation

It’s raining outside.  It’s cold outside.  Two reasons not to run outside, even though it’s my running day.  I should go to the gym instead.

I hate running on the treadmill.

Well, I don’t have to use the treadmill.  I could use the elliptical thing that’s not an elliptical that I like.

But it’s at the gym and I have to go the gym to use it.

Yeah, but I was going to have to go to the trail to run on it, so what’s the difference?

It’s the gym.

The gym has wi-fi and I can watch an episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend while I work out.

Yeah, but…that’s a compelling argument.  Fine.  I’ll go to the gym.

Should I stay or should I go

We had an ice storm today.  Well, we didn’t, but there was an ice storm in parts of Oregon today.  And we had enough sleet that we’ve got little icicles hanging from the gutters and the trees are covered in ice and the poor rosebushes are weighed down by the ice.

It’s icy is what I’m saying.  Also cold.

We’re slow-cooking for dinner (good day for it), and The Bloggess made me laugh.

We are considering sticking around Eugene for a little bit longer than originally planned.  Partly, it’s because John is excited about his new band (which still needs a name) and wants to give it a real shot, but mostly it’s because we’re not ready.  We haven’t made much of an effort to figure out where we’d go next or how we’d make it happen, and if we go right when our lease is up (which is less than four months from now), we have to be moving at full speed on that right now.

I don’t want to do that, and neither does John.  We still like our plan (possibly with modifications), and we still don’t plan on staying in Eugene forever, but we feel like we just got here.  There are still things to do.  So maybe we’ll stay a little longer.

On the other hand, John is sick again (congested and miserable), for the third time in five months.  Maybe it’s the house and maybe we should move.