Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Tuesday with Tucker

So my birthday was yesterday.  Which turned what would have been an ordinary Tuesday (make the bed, feed the cats, sit in traffic, go to work, be annoyed by everything, sit in traffic, ride the horse, pour the wine) into a Tuesday that stuck me with the sort of melancholy that only comes with an occasion that forces you to reflect on your past year and take stock of your life and count your chickens every other dangerous metaphor you want to throw in there (New Years can also do this.  Be forewarned).  As Anne Lamott says, "The worst part about celebrating another birthday is the shock that you're only as well as you are."

I don't particularly like my birthday, because let's face it, adult birthdays are let downs.  If you're not a four-year-old in a party dress waiting for the ponies to arrive, it's kind of inevitably disappointing. It's what I've come to recognize as my birthday malaise.  I think forcing myself to be happy and chipper and in a good mood all day because people are wishing you happy birthday so that's how you're supposed to react kind of zaps all my energy, and leaves me longing to climb back under the covers and wait for the day to pass.  Compound that with certain people who made sure that I felt as unspecial as possible yesterday and I was feeling pretty down.  I wanted to tell them that I already felt pretty unspecial, so they really needn't bother, but I didn't.  (Side note.  It amazes me that adult women can be as mean as middle-schoolers.  I can't be the only one who still encounters this as I get older.)

Birthdays, like Valentine's Day and all other holidays, create this expectation that you're supposed to have special plans and have a really fun day planned and get treated like someone who's really important.  But when that's not the case, when your day is just an ordinary Tuesday, those well-meaning comments can feel like digs. Even though they're not.  Even though people are just saying exactly what they've been conditioned to say when they say, "so, any special plans this evening?"

But it made me feel like snapping at people.  I wanted to remind them that I'm single and I live alone and I've had kind of a crappy year, so of course I don't have special plans.  Yes, as I said in my last post, I'm figuring out how to be happy and grateful and content with my new life, and in honest moments (as opposed to morbid, self-pitying moments) I have zero desire for marriage or a family and I love my quiet little cottage.  But yesterday... although externally I was humming right along, liking all the facebook posts and cheerfully answering texts and eating my birthday cupcake, inside I was throwing a major pity party for myself.  Despite the 100+ people saying nice things to me via text and social media, I was barely holding it together.

These flowers prompted many remarks.
All of which were met with a grumpy "no they're not from a boy."
But then I got to the barn, and my friends were waiting with wine and flowers, and I shared a carrot cake cupcake with Tucker and Goose.  And I had my first genuine laughs of the day, without even a hint of awkward fake laughter that's barely covering up the sheer existential dread. What would we do without horses?  And horse girls!

Carrot cake is delicious
The frosting not so much
But - and this is important.  Do not go feeling bad for me. I did plenty of feeling bad enough for myself yesterday to cover all of us.  And for my facebook friends, don't regret wishing me a happy birthday or telling me to have fun or any of the other lovely things you said.  I loved them.  They made the day palatable.  They reminded me not to be so glum.  You all reminded me that I have no reason not to be happy about my life-stock and the number of my chickens.

I love this photo
Remember Eeyore's birthday party?  When Eeyore is all gloomy because he can't sing and dance on his birthday, and then Pooh and Piglet give him an empty honey jar and a popped balloon and he's happy again?  It was basically that, only slightly less adorable.  And ended with an empty wine bottle, rather than an empty honey pot.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Summer

I know, I've been away just about all summer.  Allow me to explain.

I deliberately put competing and training (and sometimes even horses in general) on the back burner, for possibly the first time in my life.  I needed a pressure release valve, and that was it (since I can't exactly not work all summer, or not pay bills all summer, or not move to a new town, or avoid any of my usual sources of stress). I needed something that was easy to take off my plate, something that wouldn't really have any consequences if I just didn't do it.  Since Tucker had a little time off for his aforementioned injecting-all-the-things situation, and since we are right smack in the middle of First and Second levels in terms of our skills, this was a pretty easy choice.  

Not the least bit worried about his summer curriculum
It gave me the freedom not to feel guilty if I had a few days in a row where I didn't make it to the barn, or if I had social, non-horse plans on the weekend, and to go on a week's vacation to the beach. I needed it.  Things I did instead of showing:

Hung out with my nieces 
Took beach selfies
Saw lots of pretty sunsets
Went camping in the rain
Went swimming with baby dogs
Of course, it also meant that I didn't have much material for blogging, but I kind of figured that would happen.  The good news is that I'm still a crazy horse girl and even though I told myself I was under no obligation to do so, I still wanted to ride and work on our goals and spend as much time as humanly possible with this guy.  

I mean, look at him.
So, I did.  And even though we weren't really chasing goals, he has continued to thrive, and we have made tiny incremental progress toward the skills we need for Second Level.  Shoulder-in is coming right along.  I'm figuring out what a collected trot should feel like.  His counter-canter is getting better and better.  I'm struggling a little bit less with sitting his trot (but barely).

We've been working on canter-walk-canter transitions. Progress is very, very slow.  A month ago, if I practiced them two days in a row, Tucker either threatened to rear or threw his head in the air and took off like a terrified camel.  This past weekend, we did them Sunday and Monday, and Monday's transitions were better than Sunday's.  So, he's slowly figuring it out.  The next step is convincing him that after a canter-walk-canter transition, he can go forward again.  Since the test will require him to do three in a row and then do a medium canter.  Gulp.

We can now get through 2-1.  It's pretty messy and not ready for public viewing yet and requires some extra circles on occasion, and we walk for way more steps than we will once we start showing in the canter-walk-canter transitions.  But that means we'll be ready by next Spring when I'm going to pick up showing again.  (See, even when I don't have goals, I still have goals.  It's the blessing and curse of being Type-A.)

Three musketeers
The other reason I haven't been blogging is that I started writing in my journal again.  I had stopped writing when I was with Ethan, and I used to write almost every night.  One of the signs of trouble in that relationship is that I was never allowed to be alone.  I couldn't go sit in the other room and read, or write for a bit before bed, or just be by myself for a while, without causing a massive fight. Time to myself is something I've learned that I will always need, and will be non-negotiable in every relationship from now on.  

I had a lot of things that I needed to write privately about.  I needed to write about how the heck I ended up in the situation I found myself in last Spring. How did I turn into that person? How did I lose touch with all my friends? How did my life turn into constantly taking care of someone else, and forgetting to take care of myself? Where did my self-esteem run off to? Where did all this anxiety come from?  Why did I always think everyone was mad at me?

My alone time has been my most favorite thing about this summer. I forgot how much I like my own company. But my mind can get a little too busy sometimes, so writing (especially before bed) helps me quiet it down. I write about Ethan, sometimes things that I wouldn't want to admit to anyone out loud, sometimes things that are a little too melodramatic for public consumption. I write about stuff from way back in my childhood and I'm making connections between old patterns and current patterns. You know, all that emotional/mental hard work it takes to be a just barely functional human.

Fully functional cat.  Complete lack of mental anguish.
And I needed to write about a new someone, but this thing is so new that I can't really say anything about it here.  All I will tell you is that I cannot even say his name without smiling. It's new and it's fun but I also have a truckload of baggage to work through.  Trust me when I tell you that I needed to write about that privately. 

So, unless they publish my memoirs posthumously, you'll probably never get to read all that stuff. But it was helpful for me to write, even if it never gets read.  I missed you all though, as I always do when I take a break from blogging.  And now the missing-you feeling has taken over the needing-to-be-alone feeling that I had a couple months ago.  So you can expect that I'll be back to posting and reading and commenting. And telling you all about this boy.  Who is still my heart and soul, wrapped up in a big brown package.