Archive for the 'uncategorized' category

November 15th, 2010

» not the valedictorian

This confession should surprise no one: I hate to get things wrong. I like reading instructions; I like to be able to think about a thing, logic it out or intuit it, and then pick it up for the first time and be able to do it, at least passably. I prefer to skip over the awkward stage where you really suck at a thing, where you’re just glaringly bad and mess it up, and all the ensuing attention. That I’m a failure and everyone’s looking at me feeling.

That’s why I hated gym class. Hated. I was a shy, chubby kid who loved books and math and making up elaborate relationships between plastic horses. Being forced to attempt a pull-up in front of the entire class was torture on par only to being made to do team sports with the aggressive, athletic kids, who wouldn’t scruple to kick a soccer ball full power straight into your face. It took me a long, long time to find any physical activity that didn’t make me want to curl up and die of humiliation. (Step aerobics. I can do it at home in front of my tv where no one can see me. It is bliss.)

Anyway, so, I like to be right the first time, and I really like routines. I like figuring out the best way to do something, and then doing it that way, every time. (I have, for instance, perfected how to cut a banana so it is absolutely perfect in a bowl of cereal. Well-cut bananas are a predictable spot of joy in almost every morning.) It makes me a bit of a stick in the mud about some things, obviously, and it takes me longer than the average person to come around to new ways of doing things. I know I sometimes miss out on other people’s awesome banana shapes.

Which brings me to the other hand: I also like, sometimes, to push my own boundaries a bit. It’s a good lesson to myself that I don’t always have to be right the first time. I’m not very good at finding the joy in trying, but — I’m trying. This is partly what my hair salon policy grew out of. When I go for a cut, I always try to make the stylist decide what to do. For the most part it’s worked fantastically for me. I’ve had a couple I’m meh about, but the majority of the time I leave the salon feeling like a rock star. Sometimes it scares the pants off me, and those are the best times.

Yesterday, for instance. I don’t go to the salon very often (maybe three or four times a year), so I usually let myself splurge on it. I have a lady I really like at this fancy-pants place, but she’s expensive. Really expensive. So yesterday I went to Fantastic Sam’s. I don’t think I’ve been to a place that doesn’t take appointments since…ever? The stylist is great: we have a chat about the atrocity of people wearing tights with short shirts but calling them leggings, and how you’re basically half-naked in public; and about picking out nipple colors after breast reconstruction surgery; and about role-playing documentaries. I say yes to everything she proposes. When she whips out the thinning shears and starts hacking away halfway up the length of my hair I do have a moment of dread. It’s like mini skydiving, a whisper of the feeling of kneeling at the edge of a plane. She’s right, though, and it all turns out great.

Anyway, I’ve gone a bit astray from what I originally meant to say, which is: I am not (as Dooce would phrase it) the valedictorian of driving stick shifts. My dad taught me how when I was sixteen. He’s the perfect kind of person to teach driving: kind, patient, unflappable, and able to clearly explain each step and feel. If I ever scared him half to death he never let on — which was good, because I had enough anxiety for both of us. He taught me how in an old Suzuki Samuri, which he then let my friend and I paint blue with gigantic yellow and orange flowers. I’m still flabbergasted he agreed to that. Anyhow, I stalled that thing and lurched through gears all over town for a couple years, then went off to college and didn’t touch another stick shift for almost a decade.

And now I find myself in temporary possession of a manual. I swapped with my boyfriend (and babe, if you’re reading this, I promise I haven’t stalled it or lurched through any gears [yet]), who sadly has a broken arm. (Jury’s still out if he’ll be able to swim in Bali next week — but he’s still very capable of sitting on a beach with a book and a frosty drink, so: silver lining!) I am exquisitely glad my dad taught me to drive a stick all those years ago, but I’m still out of practice and would be very embarrassed to have any passengers. I’m currently in the stage of over-analyzing everything I do with the car, in a sort of low-level panic about the damage I must unwittingly be doing, in constant dread of having to down-shift or, horror of horrors, stop on an uphill slope. In my illustrious stick-shift-driving career I have yet to roll backwards into anybody, but there’s always tomorrow.

Thankfully, interspersed with all of this neurotic apprehension come moments of euphoria. I love, Love!, upshifting from second to third and third to fourth. (Third is my favorite gear.) Every time I think I’m going to do something hideously wrong but it ends up working I feel like a genius and I want to grab someone and shout I downshifted and didn’t die! or I drove through the parking lot!. I really love my car — it’s gotten me through some pretty dicey situations, over a whole lot of ice and snow — but driving it is at best a time to zone out to an audiobook (not a bad thing really) and at worst a dreaded chore. The manual, though? The manual is a little push out of my comfort zone. It’s a chance to get the heart rate up a little, and to pull the key out of the ignition feeling like I have just conquered the world.

May 5th, 2009


Work has been insane lately. I owe y’all an update, particularly about my first cross-country jumping lesson with Ev, and our first venture down the Luce Line.

For the moment, however, I just have time for a quick one to say that I’m walking in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure this Sunday, as part of a team to honor my riding instructor, who spent a long winter undergoing chemo (while still teaching!). I know the economy’s tight right now, but if you have a couple bucks to spare, consider donating:

Within a week: a real update! Promise!

May 1st, 2008

» MS Walk

I thought I’d posted about this before, but apparently not…

On Sunday, I’m taking part in the MS Walk in Minneapolis with my dear friend Julie, who has MS. That’s really her story to tell, so suffice to say I’m walking with and in support of her.

If you’re able, please consider making a donation. As mentioned on my donation site, I’m happy to repay in Ev-hugs and/or baked goods at your request! (Not that I could stop you from having Ev-hugs if you came out to the stable. He is quite a cuddlebug — always up in everyone’s business. I’m afraid I’ve let him get into a bit of a habit of rummaging around people’s faces and hair with his cute squishy nose — it’s so cute! and squishy! And I realize that makes me one of those terrible cuddly-poo horse owners. And I don’t care.)

Thanks in advance!

December 27th, 2007

» 2007

Sometimes, life aligns.

You get a big, fairytale year. You step off of a plane in Peru. Watch the first sunrays strike Machu Picchu. Speculate on the Milky Way. Eat tamales on a bus so crowded the front door won’t close.

Look up from the sea of Christmas gifts to discover a gentle white whirl of snow just beyond the window.

Pull open the stall door on Christmas Eve and step inside and hug your horse.

Honestly, I can’t even begin to think further about this year. I keep stalling out on the magic of a handful of moments. Overcome with thankfulness. The hope that everyone has their own place like the shoulder of a horse. Home for the heart.

If this new year is a tenth of the old, I’ll count myself blessed indeed.

August 2nd, 2007

» road to Al’s

Early last Saturday morning, in continuance of tradition, Bryce and I headed out for pancakes and an omelet at Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown. I’m notorious for getting lost every time, either coming or going (but somehow usually not both), but this time I’d been smart and remembered to print out directions (it’s only when I print them out that I don’t need them) — only to discover upon arrival that 35W was closed. So we had to figure out some other way to go, and I only made one pointless circle, and the wally blues and Mexican omelet were delicious as always.

And that was the last time I thought about 35W until last night, when my sister told me it had collapsed. My family’s all accounted for. It’s still surreal, thinking about it, trying to reconcile the news images with my mental picture of that area. I’m going to try to go donate blood tomorrow, I think.