Thursday, October 10, 2013

Feeling Lousy After a Nice Weekend

1) Stayed at my in-laws house last weekend, they were out of town, we were in town. I was looking at a calendar that Ryan and I gave his mother for Christmas - lots of pretty pictures of moons. I realised that Petra had visited the weekend that I visited the last time . At the time, his mother had seemed somewhat cagey on the phone and I had felt from the beginning that she was sort of trying to dissuade me from visiting. Now I realise that it was because Petra was coming. So I feel rotten because she didn't tell me and give me the option of deciding on my own whether or not things would be awkward. And if the decision wasn't up to me - if it was Petra she was worried about upsetting, then I'm even more upset. Because Petra shouldn't get to decide whether or not I see my in-laws let alone whether Elinor gets to see her grandparents.

I had thought that my relationship with my mother-in-law was such that she could discuss these things with me. I found out that Ryan told his parents "not to mention Petra" which is a little infuriating. I still need to figure that one out. It seems like he did that for his sake more than mine - maybe he is just tired of me being upset by the whole thing and figured that if I never heard about her, I'd forget about it.

Another reason I feel rotten: it seems that no matter how crazy Petra is and insanelyand awful, Cat has chosen to maintain a relationship with her. Ryan thinks that the relationship is one-sided, but Cat would never have chosen Petra over me (and her grand-daughter) if it were. I would like to say, let's say bygones are bygones, but I can't because obviously there is still a need to keep Petra and me and Petra and Ryan apart. Why they accommodate her when she isn't actually family (and we are!) is beyond me and very hurtful.

My therapist says I have two options, neither of which are appealing. Withdraw emotionally or try to talk to Cat directly. I find the former sad and the latter embarrassing because I am embarrassed that I can't seem to stop feeling hurt about a thing that happened 6 years ago. She also says that it is weird that Cat scheduled a vacation when we were going to be in town. I am inclined to think it was an oversight, but who the hell knows.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kidney Stones Are Not Amazing.

One of my facebook friends posts stuff about her various cleanses* and things she finds inspirational. Today she posted the following: "Start looking forward to the times you feel uncomfortable. Because on the other side of that is something amazing."

I was sorely tempted to post, "Unless it's a kidney stone." In the interest of being nice, though and also taking into account that people who use the word cleanse generally don't have a very good sense of humor, I did not.

*I do a cleanse several times a day, as a matter of fact. Basically, I go into the bathroom and void my bladder of urine. I feel so refreshed afterwards.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Good Bread, Bad Clients

2 Things:

1. I made a really excellent sweet egg bread on Thursday and then, this morning, I made the last of it into french toast. Elinor's first taste of french toast and my first time making it. The egg bread was cut into before I could take a picture of it, but it was pretty gorgeous. I did an 8-strand braid. 

2. Last night I received an actual complaint about the lesson I taught. Things I felt upon receiving the email (indirectly, submitted to the website and thus my boss, rather than to my email, which seemed rude and cowardly): sucker punched. annoyed. horrible. sick. 
The complaint was: "Unfortunately -- way too much time was spent on "work" he needs to take this off, unbuckle this, clean this, put this back, hang this here, do this that way -- that he lost interest. He is 7 years old (!) and was looking forward to enjoying himself. I feel badly because its an opportunity lost for my son." 

Here's the thing. No exaggeration, I had him WATCH me untack and put things away and then brush the pony. The exclamation point after the "7 years old" is especially infuriating because when I was 7, getting to brush a pony would have been the highlight of my week. It still kind of is. Then we put the pony away and I told him to tell her "thank you" (I always instruct my students to say thank you to the pony when they put them away). 

 Fortunately my boss tried to explain that our philosophy is that part of the whole experience is learning the "work" as well and that, although it is actually much easier to just get the pony ready and throw the kid on, then send them home and do the untacking ourselves, we choose to do it this way because we feel it is important. 

 So, while I do not feel that I did anything wrong, nor do I feel that I would do things differently, nor should I and I also know that if she took her son anywhere else, he would have the same experience, I can't help feeling truly gutted and am full of self-loathing. I actually went to bed early last night because of it and had to have a good cry about it again today.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Horse Sales Videos with Music

I'm thinking about sending a query to Practical Horsemen. I've been stumped as to what it might be, but today I actually thought of something. A plea for horse sellers to stop using music in their sales videos.

Georgi emailed asking about sales horses and I promptly fired off a descriptive email regarding the particular sales horses that I thought would be suitable for the particular buyer in question. Then, because were I work is fairly organised and they are really great about keeping their website up to date, I was able to forward 3 videos of sales horses.

Then I watched one of them and...put it on mute immediately.

Why? Because it had music. A lot of horse sales videos have music. A LOT. And it is always, always, always the worst. Think "Bittersweet Symphony" or anything by Coldplay. And for those who are aware of copyright law, it's always some awful synthesized easy listenin' track with pan pipes bought cheaply from the video production company who informed the seller about copyright law.

Pretty much the only excuse as to why. "But I/someone was yelling/talking/singing while the video was being made."

I think that we can all put our heads together and come up with a solution for that problem.

The other place I think it comes from was horse show videos from the 90s. Some horse shows had videographers, so you could get a "professionally made" video of your rounds. And to (I think) justify the cost, they put cheesy graphics and added music. This was very impressive in the 90s. It looked as good as local news show b-roll! (we couldn't make things ourselves that looked that good back then). I believe that horse people are stuck in a bit of a time warp sometimes and because this was done in the 90s when, perhaps, they started their business, they think that all sales videos should have music over them. And the tradition continues.

The thing is though, unlike websites that play music upon loading, it doesn't make me close the window immediately and look back, and as far as I know, it doesn't affect to do that either. And I think I know why.

Horse people are woefully, strangely and sadly behind the times. Only recently, within the last 5 years or so, have any significant portion of them figured out what a powerful marketing tool the internet can be. And they still don't understand how websites work or why it's important that they are updated and no, your friend can't just do it because it takes time, effort and expertise which is why you should pay someone (a competent someone) to RUN the website after it has been built.

I do know, however, how hard these people work doing something that they love. And they are making an effort dammit. The video is out there. Much in the same way that I find paintings for sale in thrift stores heartbreakingly sweet, despite how truly awful they are, I try to feel that way about music on horse sales videos.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Not crazy!

I turned 32 a week ago yesterday and for my birthday, I received clear evidence that I am not a crazy person.

This, in turn, led to my being more confident in dealing with other people! 

For example:

I lost my temper with Ryan. But not unwarrantedly so. And then, I stuck to my guns and told him to figure out a way to make it right, instead of my usual tactic of trying to make the bad feelings go away as quickly as possibly by fuming for awhile, then apologising for losing my temper and for everything else, really. 

Our infrequent arguments usually go something like this: Ryan infuriates me, I become cross, he decides that I am being irrational, I become even more cross because I am feeling marginalised, ignored and occasionally gaslighted - which is a horrible feeling. 

Then Ryan moves on and tries to forget the argument, which is horribly uncomfortable for me because I spent an entire childhood and young adulthood watching my parents fight horribly and my mother doing everything in her power to make the shouting stop, which mostly meant agreeing with whatever my father said and then ignoring that it ever happened as soon as it was over. 

In an effort to avoid this state of affairs, I try and talk about it, but because I am terrified of him or anyone being cross with me, I apologise for my behaviour. Ryan never does. But I hate fighting so, so much that I just am willing to move on (it makes me so ill!). Which is not exactly much different from my mother's tactic except that we do, actually, usually, talk about what the problem is. 

Since Ryan and I rarely ever fight, this is not such a frequent thing. But it does happen and I end up feeling rotten either way. 


Another example! 

I received a text from Casey asking me if I wanted to ride in the Tony clinic she had coming up. Instead of my ingratiating: "Yes! I'll ride whomever you want!" I wrote back, "I would like to. Can I ride a horse as opposed to a pony?" 

I received no answer, but am confident that I did the right thing, even if I do not get to participate, because I'll be damned if I'm paying another ring fee to school her medium ponies in a lesson that I am also paying for. She didn't get back to me for days and then it was some garbled message about trying but things are super busy! and blacksmith bills (which I'm not sure have anything to do with anything although I bet there is some tangent that connects them that she neglected to tell me about because that happens a lot)! and keeping the horses fit!

Here's the thing: other people are allowed to just show up and borrow her horses for lessons without getting passive-aggressive shit for not helping keep them fit or helping with blacksmith bills.

So it may mean that I don't get a Tony lesson, but I'm also glad I stuck to my guns. And that gave me the bravery to request the nice sales horse (as opposed to saying "I'll take whomever you want me to! I'm just happy to get to go!") for the hunter pace on Saturday.

So here's to self-improvement and realising that I'm not necessarily as crazy as I thought. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Countdown and my feet are itchy.

August 31 is my birthday and also means we have been in Ithaca for 5 years and a week or so. Ryan is going to be done in the spring (assuming his prediction is accurate) and it's left me with a feeling of anxious unrootedness.

Sometimes I wake up and think: Barnaby, Elinor and I should just move to the Bay Area (where Ryan is most likely going to get a job). I could get a part-time job*, my parents could watch Elinor or we could send her to daycare and Ryan could finish faster because he wouldn't have us as distractions. Most importantly, I can get started on the next phase of my life. Right now and for the last little while, I have felt like I am in limbo. Waiting, waiting, waiting. My feet are itchy metaphorically speaking. 

But, I don't even know what the next phase should be. I think I'm anxious to start it so that I'll know what it is. I want to turn to the last page to make sure that the main character (me) makes it through all right (ends up happy). 

Other days, I wake up and think: How tremendously sad. We are finishing our last summer in Ithaca and we didn't take advantage of everything it had to offer. We're a part of the community, we have a nice comfortable place, lots of friends, lots to do and most of the things we like are available to us. Would it be so bad if Ryan didn't finish in the spring? My feet are itchy, literally speaking, from the mosquito bites I got sharing beers with my new friend Genevieve, in her back yard, sitting on her picnic table nest to a patch of rainbow chard, summer squash and tomatoes, and watching her sheep and chickens romp around and discussing canning peaches and horses. 

Sometimes I think about the huge going-away party we'll throw when we leave and sometimes I think about the huge we're back party we'll throw when we arrive in California. 

*A part-time job doing what, I do not know. My friend Nik told me that her boss would probably hire me, but do I want to go and work for a trainer? Part of me says Yes! horses all the time! and part of me says, No! Working for yourself horse-wise and working for a trainer sucks. Get a non-horse job to pay for the horses. Any advice in either direction would be welcome. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Emails with Antonia

Photo prints
6 messages

Alice Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM
To: Antonia 

Hey Antonia,

Do you have a recommendation for a place to have prints made from digital photographs? 

I hope you are enjoying your holiday!


AntoniaSat, Jul 20, 2013 at 10:52 AM
To: Alice

I always use I've heard good things about blurb, too, but I don't know whether they just do photo products (like photo books etc.) or also straightforward prints.

Hope Ithaca isn't too muggy at the moment!

Lots of love,

Alice Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM
To: Antonia 

It is pretty muggy, but better than it has been.

Sadly, we lost Jeeves yesterday. He died very suddenly, after a series of seizures. The reason I am asking about prints is that I have several pictures of him of which I have been meaning to get prints made for awhile and now it feels quite urgent.

I was wondering if, when you return, we could arrange to go on a hike with you and your camera. I would like to get some nice pictures of Barnaby and Elinor but am loathe to have "studio" portraits done because I don't particularly care for them. I just want pretty pictures of them being themselves. What would you charge for something like that?

Also, when do you return? August sometime?


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Antonia Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 8:34 AM
To: Alice 
I only just saw that I hadn't actually sent me reply to this. I'm so sorry to hear about Jeeves! That's just awful. How are Ryan and you taking it, and how is Barnaby?

Yes, I'd love to go on a walk with you all when the leaves are turning (or while they're still summer green) and take some photos - maybe in the plantations? I won't be back in Ithaca until Labor day weekend, though.

It's hot here and continues getting hotter, and while it is lovely and cool every night even right in the city, the house just doesn't cool down properly anymore.  I'm taking it as the perfect excuse to adopt the principle of 'no such thing as too much watermelon'.

Lots of love,

Alice Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 9:52 AM
To: Antonia 

Barnaby seems a little mopey, but it's hard to say. He's never been an "only" dog so we may just be seeing a side of Barnaby that has, until this point, been hidden. Ryan and I are both pretty broken up. I probably cry about it at least once a day and I've never seen Ryan so upset as he was this last weekend. Jeeves was a weird and eccentric dog and he didn't like everyone and he wasn't always pleasant, and for some reason, I was extraordinarily attached and protective of him. He was my dog before I even knew Ryan, so perhaps the "me and him against the world" during our first fall and winter together, which was during one of the hardest years of my life has something to do with it. He helped me a lot and I felt like I owed it to him to keep him safe and healthy and happy. I think I almost feel like I failed him because he died so young.

Ugh. Sorry to lay all of this on you: I'm obviously still trying to process what I'm feeling and why. 

I have been eating a lot of watermelon too but the number of chanterelles* I have consumed is sadly, zero. 

See you after labour day!


*my web browser is trying to correct "chanterelles" to "chanticleer". Clearly not educated in the finer points of mycology.

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AntoniaThu, Jul 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM
To: Alice
Hey, no worries - that's what friends are for. It's always awful to see dear people suffer, and given that I'm far too far away to give you a hug right now, I'm glad if I can be at least a virtual shoulder.

I still remember when the cat died that had lived with us since I was about 10. He lived to a good old age (which meant all sorts of deterioration, disorientation and probably also some pain for him, and always the question of whether it would be kinder to put him to sleep - but he still ate and pooped, so maybe taking his life would be more cruel?); when he died I was already at Cornell, and there wasn't anything I could do. I cried a lot and was glad people were much less harsh than I was on myself and my emotions. Of course the animals that are part of our families aren't humans, but they *are* part of the family, and when they're not there anymore something important is missing. I'm sure Jeeves was extremely well taken care of - if there had been some warning sign to react to some time ago, I know you would have noticed it.

I was told cats and dogs who have died get to sleep on god's bed all they want, and while I am getting hesitanter and hesitanterer on god, I'm still pretty certain that the bit about his bed is right.

Lots of love,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quitting horses.

Sometimes, when I'm driving or trying to fall asleep, I tell myself I'm going to quit riding: I don't think I'm ever going to have a trainer that gives me something decent to ride that's over 14 hands and I don't have the strength to keep moving forward without help. I'm tired of pushing against everyone to make things happen.

I've been working at another stable recently, teaching and riding. I took a lesson there before I was offered the position and I said, "I'm still working with Casey, I just need to get off the ponies."

Sue said, "You do, you're so right."

Then, she offered me a job. And has consistently given me ponies to ride. I think I'm going to scream.

I honestly have zero idea how good I am - I have no frame of reference anymore. And it's maddening and I actually have disorienting feelings regarding whether or not I am losing my mind. Using that phrase "losing my mind" is exactly what I mean, but I was reticent to use it because I am not speaking hyperbolically. I would have stuck "literally" in there to imply that I wasn't speaking hyperbolically, but that doesn't really help these days.

And I think about how crazy I feel and how hurt and angry and frustrated I am to be so far behind where I should be and how devastating to think about all the things I might have done differently to be in a different place and I think that I should just cut my losses, walk away and move on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

One dog now.

Jeeves died today. He had a series of seizures and then went into cardiac arrest and then died. 

I'm heartbroken. I've had that dog longer than I've known my husband. He was so silly and smart and just the best. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saying No.

My therapist wanted to coach me through saying "no" to people who want me to do things I simply do not want to do. She wanted me to practice what I was going to say to someone.

I told her I didn't want to because it felt uncomfortable and I didn't see how it was going to help me. She said, "Just try it." And I said,

"Aren't I supposed to be practicing saying "no" to people who want me to do things that I don't want to do?"