Archive for February, 2009

February 26th, 2009

» the latest

I dream all in fires lately, in lost friends found, children to rescue.

Last night my cat was there, curled casually in an armchair under a pool of sunlight, and I didn’t remember until minutes after I woke that he’s dead, has been for a while, and the heartbreak is that I took no special note of him while I could, no extra time; I didn’t realize until it was too late.

Last week I dreamt of an old friend, someone I haven’t talked to in months, someone I probably lost years ago. We quarreled, and I woke weeping. I remember my dreams often, carry the texture of them whole into my waking life — sights, sounds, feelings, sometimes the most vivid sensations of touch — but there’s only one other time I can recall physically reacting to one: nearly two years ago, when I woke up laughing. Of the two I’d much prefer laughter, thanks.

Last week I got a new saddle! I’ve been half thinking about it for ages now — my old saddle really wasn’t suited to me or Everett: too wide for him, flap not long or forward enough for me (the flap’s the part under your thigh/knee — or it’s supposed to be under your knee, anyway, which wasn’t the case with my old saddle when I shortened the stirrups for jumping). So I tried a couple of my friends’ saddles for fit, to see what I liked, and just started chatting with people about it. Two of my barn buddies swear by Bevals, and lo and behold a woman out at the barn had one, with a long flap!, for sale.

Sunday I had a jumping lesson — Everett’s finally sound on that right hind that’s been sore the last few weeks. We did a baby course, and he was So. Good. Amazingly good. I loved him, loved the saddle, loved the lesson. I left feeling uplifted, hopeful, believing again that we might one day be eventers.

Yesterday it was gloriously warm — just above freezing when I left work, the sun out. I rushed to the barn, tacked up in record time (I’m notoriously slow getting ready), then hopped on and went up the road. I’ve only had Ev up the road once before on his own, and it’s been a looong time since we’ve ridden outside at all. He was pretty relaxed down the long driveway, but once we got to the turn onto Kuntz, he was on high alert. We tip-toed up to the Luce Line, stopping a few times to make sure no bushes or distant joggers or mailboxes were going to eat us. He was really tense but he did not spin and bolt at anything, so just beyond the trail crossing I turned and went back. It was a short ride out but it was a ride out! in February! I think lots of little successful solo jaunts will go a long way toward building his confidence. (He’s already very comfortable being out with other horses, but I really don’t want that to be a crutch for us.)

And now this afternoon we are getting lashings of snow, buckets of it, inches stacked on inches, so it will probably be quite a while before we venture out of the arena again. Spring, we wait ready!

February 12th, 2009

» a zombie dream

Nighttime. I’m walking to visit some friends at their rented house in a crowded college suburb; the whole neighborhood is being struck with the disease (zombie-ism, I suppose, for lack of a better term). Many of the houses I pass have lit windows, music blaring; a few front doors hang open. People stare from front porches and I’m careful to meet no eyes. When I get to my friends’ place they’re talking about it in hushed tones — they’ve all been exposed, and expect to become zombies by the end of the night. Robin is just coming into the living room, walking stiffly.

“You’re shuffling,” I say, pointing to her dragging right foot.

“I am not!” she shoots back, straightening up with effort, placing her feet more deliberately.

“Yes, you are. You’re definitely shambling.” I look closer, inspecting her face. It’s ashen, her pupils ringed faintly with red. The rest of us exchange glances.

The waiting is terrible. We have mac & cheese out of the tiny kitchen, not knowing what else to do. Hoping for a cure, just waiting for the tanks and the sunlight to roll in. We tolerate Robin’s increasing intensity — the feral edge in her looks, her insistence that she isn’t changing — knowing that we are probably just hours behind her.

The night gets deeper. I leave for a while, driving the neighborhood, and return some time later. Everyone except Robin is gone; she corners me in the kitchen, looking manic, eyes gone all red now. She tells me she’s hungry. I tell her she can’t, to remember herself, but yes she can, she says, and she will. She’s advancing on me and I say yes, of course, only she has to finish baking the cookies first. There’s a pan on the counter, a bowl of dough. I need a cookie, I say, and then of course she can eat me, like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

She reaches for the bowl, and while she is looking away I go for the door. On the way I discover my three-year-old nephew is there, standing alone in the dark living room. I feel a jolt; I can’t tell if his eyes are red, his steps disjointed. I hesitate only a split second, then scoop him up and we are out the door.

“I got better,” he whispers in my ear as I stride down the street, his little arms squeezing around me. I look at him, at his huge brown eyes. I believe him, mostly; I have hope that this is something everyone will recover from on their own. But more importantly I find I don’t care. If he’s lying I’m dead, he’s dead, the wide world into which I’m taking him is doomed. But he’s my little nephew and I keep going on down the street out of town.

Over the crest of the hill in front of us, the first faint flush of morning rises.

February 10th, 2009

» day in the life

I walk out of my building into no February I would’ve dreamed. It’s drizzling, wet, smelling of spring, all muck and smudges of old snow and muddled grass waiting to grow again. I pull in a chestful of warm air, thinking of last night, of grey clouds racing over a big moon, faint fog lying low in the fields, Halloween out of season. The sun comes earlier and earlier now; I noticed the change a few weeks ago on one of these clockwork mornings, one of these 7:43 departures. I’m happy, loving this month, this reprieve from an otherwise bitterly cold winter.

I’m first in the office, unlocking the door, flicking on lights. I go through my morning computer dance so the programs all open in the task bar in the right order; I wish again that I could rearrange them, drag them around like my Firefox tabs. I field some calls, read my favorite blogs, copy a few cds for my grandma. Mid-morning I sift my favorite butterscotch candy out of the big mixed bag in the back.

Last week I switched out one of the photos on my desk; the new one is Everett and me at our first show, mud past his knees, his ears up as he eyes the billboard just out of shot. I dream of summer. I think of his soft eye, his big nose, wonder if he’s sleeping in the hay pile.

The market slides ever downward. We’re in a bit of a quiet cycle here; everyone is a little grim. It’s been a long time since we’ve had celebratory beers at lunch. “There’s been nowhere to hide,” we keep saying to each other, over and over. “Everything’s gotten crushed.” Mostly I try not to think about it. It will go up or it won’t, every day.

We have lunch at the really good Indian place. They’ve redecorated since we were there last, and it’s nice: deep burgundy walls and tablecloths, big gold and wine canvases on the walls. We’re the first to arrive but when we leave there are a scattering of other people. I hope, not for the first time, that they can hang on.

We take the long way home, snaking west and finally around the lake. I check out every house we pass, loving best the little ones with stonework fronts, those nestled in trees, the well-kept cottages. I try to imagine the insides of the really big ones, those with port-cocheres, tennis courts, little walking bridges over meandering streams. What do people do with all that space? How do they keep from rattling around?

The minutes tick by. I file, I daydream, I read blogs, forums, facebooks. I think of the internet like plain popcorn; it keeps you busy and you can eat it almost indefinitely but after a while you realize it’s lost all luster. I watch the clock. Soon enough it will turn up 4:30, and I’ll be on my way to see my ponyface. I’ll groom and fuss and groom and ride, come home for dinner, tv, a book, my bed. Tomorrow to do it all over again.