my life as a man

this week’s play-at-home blogger idol prompt was:  “write about a day in the life of you… you have to write about your day as if you were the opposite sex.”  piece of cake.  or beefcake.  whatever.

 

the weak sunrise stirs me from yet another bizarre dream cycle. i swear my wife’s hormonal swings were hitting me square in the testicles all night… that, or the full moon is screwing with my normal dead-to-the-world, snoring-like-a-freight-train, coma-like slumber.  [*author’s note: i could throw in the gratuitous ball-scratching, early morning wood, yada yada yada, but i’m pretty sure that’s implied in every piece of literature, in every film, in every place, in every time where a man wakes up. too cliche, even for me.]  it takes me a few minutes to get the old body in gear, throw on (well, not really “throw on” so much as “ease into”) my sweats, stumble downstairs trying to not step on a dog or two, make coffee (can someone please make a coffee grinder with a muffler on it? please?! it’s SO LOUD!). as that brews, i brace the cool morning air and head to the barn where six hungry hippos, i mean horses, await not-so-patiently. i swing buckets over fences, let the old-timers in their stalls from their night in the pasture, and then send the dog up the driveway for the newspaper. the coffee’s ready by the time i get back in, and i settle down on the couch with a cup and my laptop. and before i gotdamn know it, it’s 10am. what.the.hell?

i don’t know how it happens… i get sucked into the black hole of the innerneck. email, fbook, links from fbook, refill my coffee, links from links, words with friends, refill my coffee, have a little toast with my butter… which reminds me, i should have my cholesterol checked. and my prostate. “bend over and show me,” says dr. assman.

time to shovel shit. six horses equals about six hundred pounds of shit. no shit. at least my arms don’t look like old man arms. my back feels like an old man back, though. an hour later, and i’m ready to ride. except i’m hungry for lunch now. shoveling shit works up an appetite. you’d think it would spoil one…

i eat lunch in front of the laptop, of course. because i’m sad and pathetic. actually, i’m not sad at all. just need to look at something while i eat. the dogs are tired of my stares. especially since i don’t share my lunch with them.

time to saddle up. there are approximately zero times that preparing a horse to ride does not immediately turn me into “pigpen” from “peanuts.” i’ve tried standing upwind, hosing instead of brushing (in hot weather… i’m not an asshole), vacuuming (really… with a horse vacuum. yes they make those and yes they cost more than a dyson), but i still end up covered in dust, hair, horse buggers, and fly spray. it gets in my hair, up my nose, down my shirt, in my socks. i have learned to live with the itch/tickle of horse hair in my briefs.

after riding three and doing groundwork with the little guy (who is not little at all – he’s actually taller than the other five. but he’s just two years old, and i was there when he was just two hours old and so he will always be the “little guy” to me), it’s time for dinner (theirs), washing the top layer of dirt off (me), and a glass of wine (or two). oh, and dinner for me and the ever lovin’.

 

the little guy, making himself even bigger by standing on the curb.

*author’s note… while writing this, trying to “think like a man,” i have come to the realization once again that i am such a dude. i’m more of a dude than some dudes i know. though i’d be a gay dude, technically, because i do like dudes. also, my day-to-day life is pretty much a big snoozefest, but i love it. horse buggers and all.

tradition… i do not think it means what we think it means

while i did not win a spot in the blogger idol competition (no, i am not surprised even one tiny bit), i am going to try to “play at home” as often as i can.  sorry about that.  anyway, here is the first prompt asking us to write about our family traditions.  simple, right?

i could think of only one tradition we have as a family.  one.  i had to poll a couple of family members (my husband and son) to see if i was forgetting something.  i was not.  we do not have traditions… WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?  i’ll get to that in a bit…

our one tradition, which we’ve honored faithfully since 1992, has been the annual viewing of “christmas vacation.”  please to note that my children were almost 4 and 6 that first christmas viewing.  almost.  which means they were 3 and 5.  whatever.  if you have seen the movie, you are probably doing the math and trying to figure out if it’s too late to call child protective services.  it is.  they’re 23 and 25 now.

here’s the deal… all of my side of the family was here for christmas that year.  and all of my husband’s family lived nearby.  give or take a bajillion, there were 2o bajillion people in my house at any given time.  there was no “peace on earth” in this house.  it was loud.  it was raucous.  it was fun.  and the soundtrack to that fun was the non-stop, auto-rewound, VHS tape of “christmas vacation.”  my 4 (okay THREE!  stop judging me!) year old son watched that movie over and over and over and over and over again.  and the rest of us absorbed the dialogue via osmosis.  no one seemed to notice the complete inappropriateness of a 3-4 year old watching this particular movie.  frankly, i don’t think i noticed until the next year when we watched it again.  but by then, the kids had already seen it 40-50 times.  there was no turning back.  whatever damage to be done was done.  i was hopeful it would all come out in the kids’ therapy when they were much, much older.  oh!  and because i’m a giver, i gave each member of the extended family their own copy of “christmas vacation” so they could relive the hell, i mean the wonder, of the christmas of ’92.  it’s the gift that keeps on giving, much like the jelly-of-the-month club.

so, every year, every DAMN year, we watch that movie.  here’s the kicker:  my son, when he was about 12, told us he liked to watch that movie when he was little because of the cartoon santa at the beginning of the movie.  he didn’t know how to rewind the tape, so he let it run to the end and it would auto-rewind.  40-50 times.  no joke.  “holy shit!  where’s the tylenol?!”

tradition might mean something else to the rest of the world, but to us it means laughter. and memorizing movie lines whether you want to or not. “shitter’s full!” “get off of me, ya fungus.” “does it really matter, eddie?” “the lights aren’t twinkling, clark.” “thanks for noticing, art.” “bend over and i’ll show ya.” i could go on, but you get the picture.

watch it. 40-50 times at least. then judge me.

oh!  i thought of another tradition we have!  okay, not “we,” but “i.”  my family really is not on board with this at all.  but they humor me.  we have the most bizarre christmas trees in all the land:

our christmas tree last year… it’s the “tree” part of an agave plant.

but is it art?

walter de maria.  i didn’t remember the name, and i didn’t remember he was responsible for both works of art, but i do remember his art.  i imagine that might be enough for him.

i was 18.  i was in college, more or less:  more than i wanted to be, and less than i was required to be to actually earn a degree.  i didn’t finish, because i didn’t know what i wanted to be when i grew up.  if i grew up.  (that’s what i told everyone. but that’s not true.  i knew what i wanted to be, but was told it wasn’t practical.  who can make a living at training horses?  i could have.)

i managed to be accepted into the honors program at my little school. i remember the interview… that’s not true… i remember thinking i hadn’t a chance in hell in getting into the program, so there was no pressure, and apparently i appear intelligent when i just don’t give a crap because i knew they were going to reject me anyway.  but they didn’t.  i’m so glad they didn’t, even if i didn’t finish, even if i couldn’t be what i wanted to be.  they showed me things.  they took me places.

2 of these places were in soho, new york city.  both of them were unlike anything i’d ever seen nor imagined.

earth room.  it is just that, a room full of earth.  the blackest, richest dirt you can imagine, with an aroma that i remember hitting me in the face as soon as the street level door was opened, before even climbing the stairs to the second floor loft.  it was the cleanest dirty smell i’d ever experienced.  it was pure.  it was… well… earthy.

against the white walls of the loft, the dirt is piled almost 2 foot high; it’s level and looks ready for planting. but there are no plants (any growth is removed by the caretaker).  just black earth, white walls, natural light from windows and some overhead electric lighting.  and a hush.  a heavy silence.   it’s a quiet room. a monument to the earth that has been covered, smothered, by the concrete and steel that composes the city, any city.  a memorial.

earth room, by walter de maria

broken kilometer.  a series of 500 brass rods, each 2 meters long, laid on the floor in 5 perfect parallel rows of 100 rods each.  the first 2 rods are place 80mm apart, the last 580mm apart, to give the appearance of uniform spacing across the entire floor from the vantage point of the viewer to the back of the room, 125 feet away, so that you could see each rod.  you could count them.  i didn’t, though.  i took them at their word.

broken kilometer, by walter de maria

a critic of the arts might ask “why?”  why waste the time, the money to maintain such art, which can’t be moved, that can only be experienced in real life (these pictures don’t do justice to the experience), in one location?

why not?  why not make an impression on another human?  a human who will never forget these things, even though she forgets most things.  a human who has remembered them for 32 years and counting.

(both installations have been commissioned and are maintained by the dia art foundation, and are still there in soho.  i’d like to see them again someday.)

i’m not too old to learn new things. important things. so, that’s good.

this one’s for a friend of mine.  and for me.  and though it still pains me to say, for my dad.

my friend calls herself a drunk. but i don’t know her as one, and she hasn’t had a drink in 10+ years.  i met her on facebook and virtually adopted her because, as i remember, and my memory sucks so i could be wrong, she defended my president.  in the most simple, pure, perfect words ever.  so there’s that.

the other thing about my friend is she taught me something about me, my father, and me.  in case i haven’t mentioned it before, my father drank himself to death.  literally.  cause of death:  ethanol poisoning.  fancy words for just too much alcohol in a body wracked by a lifetime of alcohol abuse.  i stopped talking to him a few years before he died.  his last phone call to me was ill-timed, i think.  i may have acted rashly, or maybe i just did the best i could at the time, but as he slurred his words, condemning me and my sisters for not telling him we’d been in his area the year before for a wedding, i told him, “maybe if, just once, you’d call when you weren’t drunk, we’d want to see you.”  he denied being drunk, as usual. “well, then, maybe you should see a doctor because i think you have brain damage,” were my last words to my father.  even after all these years (23? i don’t even remember the year he died) it’s painful to write that.

but!  then i met my friend and read her soul-baring, heartfelt, lovely blog and facebook page.  here’s what i learned about me:

i was judgmental about substance-abusers.  i couldn’t understand why they chose to abuse themselves, because i believed it was a            choice.  which is not to say it isn’t… my friend chooses sobriety every day, but she has to choose it every day.

as a young person, i thought if my father really loved us, me, he’d quit.  and since that never happened, he didn’t love us, me.

i was unforgiving regarding substance-abuse.  in self-defense, though, i think.  that was how i coped.

here’s what i learned about my father:

he probably did love us, but he was weak and he hated himself.  you can’t show love or make yourself healthy if you hate yourself.

and here’s what i learned about me, again:

i’m not a drunk.  i drink but i don’t need to get drunk.  i’m not escaping anything, including myself, when i drink.  i am not my father.

thank you my friend, katy maher.  if you don’t follow her blog, you should.  if you’re not a fan of her facebook page, you should be.  she will make you laugh nearly every damn day.

in the sun

i first heard this song several years after it was recorded by michael stipe and chris martin for a hurricane katrina benefit. the first few notes made me look up from my solitaire game to see what it was (how i loved the satellite radio for that feature!). the sun was shining over the sea of cortez, yet i was playing cards at the kitchen table. because that’s what i do when i’m there. i’m outside all the time at home, so having the luxury of staying inside is my kind of vacation! after those few notes, michael stipe began singing “i picture you in the sun, wondering what went wrong. and falling down on your knees, asking for sympathy. and being caught in between all you wish for and all you’ve seen. and trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in.”

the poignancy of those lyrics and of that melody brought my new old friend to mind. i blame facebook for our reconnection, actually, for our connection, because we weren’t friends as children, but we did grow up in the same town, went to the same schools. but i was a nerd and he was, well, not one.  but for some reason he wrote me, asked me how i was, said he remembered me clearly. i wrote back. and then he wrote back, and it just didn’t stop. until it did.

anyway, my friend was living a life without passion, without connection, without all he wished for. and no hope for change because he wouldn’t ask for it. he put himself last, which is certainly admirable, but only to a point. and that point is somewhere well before you break your own heart.

i know that many with religious leanings will see this song in that way, especially because of the line “may god’s love be with you, always.” but i hear it less literally… i hear that line as a “farewell, my friend.” and “i wish you well.” and “i’m with you even though i’m not.” even the line “cause if i find, if i find my own way, how much will i find you” can have religious undertones, but again, because i’m not religious (to the point of almost being anti-religious, because of the hypocrites), i see it as a symbol of spiritual connection. a soul mate thing, perhaps. and when i say soul mate, i don’t mean it at all in a romantic fashion. perhaps soul friend, or soul partner, is a better description. the point is when you find someone who points you back to yourself, who reminds you of who you are, who proves to you you’re not crazy to want that in a friendship, well, that’s golden. that’s sunshine and light.

as often happens, my friendship ended. and it was painful. but i learned so much. about me and the kind of friend i am. i am not a casual friend. i can be social, even friendly, but if i see something in you that makes me want to know you, i will ask you about yourself until you beg me to stop. it doesn’t happen often that i meet someone who’ll allow themselves to be subjected to my interrogation or who i want to know, which is okay, because it’s exhausting. but when it does, it’s such a gift.

i hated this song for awhile, after the friendship ended. i hated what it brought to mind… but in time i learned to cope with the unknown, and with self-doubt. and with anger and forgiveness. and best of all, i learned to love this song again.

i wrote this because of a prompt from my friend at “from the bungalow.”  i’m trying to figure out this blogging thing as i go along, and i don’t even know how to tag you, bungalow, so please forgive me… thank you for giving me the inspiration.

(thank you, running from hell with el, for the tagging lesson… hopefully, i won’t have to ask you again!)

 

 

50 fun facts about 50 sense… a work in progress.

i started this tome december 14, 2011, as a way for fbook fans to get to know me.  it seemed like a good idea at the time.  i’ll finish some day before my 51st birthday.  i think.

1.  i’m not actually 50.  but i will be in january ’12.  there wasn’t much sense (get it?) in starting an “almost 50 sense” page, since time just mother-fucking flies by me and here i am at almost absolute-zero of the middle of my life (i plan to live to 100) plus i’ve been thinking of or preparing myself for (po-tay-to, po-tah-to) this number, this age, for at least 4 months.  i don’t know that i’m prepared.  if you don’t hear from me after january 18th, call 911.

2.  i’ve been married more than 1/2 my life.  it wasn’t always easy.  but a lot of it was.  the hard stuff was just growing up, i think.  oh, and i was supposed to move back home and marry someone else when i met my husband.  we dated long distance for the first 5 months, and married 2 months after that.

3.  i ride horses.  not for a living, but for a life.

4.  i own 5 horses.  i don’t know how that happened.  2sday (pronounced “tuesday”) is the oldest (15), a mare, a twin (her brother had to be put down when he was 8) and a prima donna who loves her creature comforts except when she doesn’t.  windsor is 14, and he is the love of my life.  or at least my horse life.  he’s my favorite, but don’t tell the others.  laurelai is 7, and teaches me everything i didn’t know i needed to know about horses.  we have a love/hate relationship.  ace is the card up my sleeve… he’s 7 this month (december), and an incredible athlete and riding him is like riding a rocket, but in the good way, and he’s as sweet as can be.  and last, but not least by any means, is xeke (pronounced “zeke”).  oxford karma is his registered name.  he’s 2sday’s son, windsor’s 1/2 nephew, and just such a joy, even when he’s being the biggest pain-in-the-horse’s-ass.

5.  my sister told me i should blog 2 years ago.  i didn’t know what it meant.  y’all should blame her.

6.  i have 2 adult children.  healthy, happy children.  despite me and my ineptitude.

7.  i live a charmed life.  i have nothing about which to complain.  i suppose i could complain about that…

8.  8’s my lucky number.  nothing actually lucky has happened that had anything to do with “8,” but when i was around 8, i decided it was my lucky number, and so there you go.

9.  i wear make-up nearly every day.  even if my horses are the only ones who are going to see me.

10.  i am at a point in my life where i can stay home for weeks at a time and not even realize that fact until i leave home.  it’s a very strange feeling to drive up the levee (we live on a river, and my road is a levee) and see the river and remember that it’s there.

11.  i am a fiercely loyal friend.  until you fuck me over.  and even then, if you apologize, i will probably forgive you.  but i won’t forget.

12.  if i write “lucky,” it is ALWAYS with a napoleon dynamite accent; “oh poor you” is with tony soprano’s mom’s accent; “bend over and i’ll show ya” is my accent, but the quote is, of course, from “christmas vacation.”  i’m sure there are more quotes, since i rarely have an original thought in my head, but those are the 3 i can think of right now.

13.  i met a half-brother when he was 27.  my father knew of him, but never mentioned him.  guess he never came up in the conversation… that story will make a good blog some day.  or a note.

14.  i have only ever lived in coastal states.  grew up on the east coast, but most of my life has been spent on the west coast.  there are things about both that i love and that i hate.

15.  i have known my best friend since the first day of kindergarten.  i miss her daily (because she is on the east coast, and i am on the left), but she is always with me.

16.  my son, my youngest, was born on a friday.  i went back to work (with him attached to my boob) on monday.  i lost that pregnancy weight in NO time.  i don’t recommend that weight-loss regimen to anyone.

17. i became invisible in my 40’s. it was exhilarating and freeing.

18. i’m an artist. my canvas is on horseback. i will miss that part of me when i can no longer create that art.

19. i have bursitis of the ischial tuberosities. in layman’s terms, i have pain in my ass. or more accurately, my seat bones. but for padded bike shorts, i’d be screwed in the horse-riding department.

20. my favorite 4-letter words (though some have more letters than that): fuck, dick, douche, pussy, and any and all variations, but not necessarily in that order. i try very, very hard to remember who’s within earshot when i utter them.

21. i can drive a tractor. a small one, but a tractor nonetheless.

22. i met every celebrity i ever met when i was 19. i won’t drop names here… but remind me to tell you one day what robin williams said about me.

23. i don’t plan on talking about my family (as in my husband and kids) very often on this page… i’m sure they’d prefer i never mentioned them at all. i will tell you this about them: they are 3 of the best people i’ve ever met. (but if they say or do something that must be mocked, all bets are off.)

24. i was once called the “food nazi.” and with good reason.

25. i wish i’d named this page “25 sense,” and that i were 25 again with my 50-yr-old brain, so that i could be done with this damn list already. geezus, i’m old…

26. i am not even peri-menopausal yet… i’ll give you a moment to let that sink in….

27. okay, time’s up. both of my grandmothers didn’t go through menopause until they were almost 60, and i am still like mutha effin’ clockwork. i’m due next tuesday. you should mark it on your calendar. really. you should.

28. i’ve been to 10 different countries. i’d go back to any of them except china.

29. in the beginning (i mean the beginning of my fbook experience), i would post yo’ mama jokes to my kids as my status. the dorkiest part of all was this was before you could tag people, so if you didn’t know my kids’ names, you didn’t know wtf i was doing. it was awesome.

30. i am an ellipsis abuser… i don’t know why… i just am….

31. i’m serial non-capitalist, in case you haven’t noticed. i use capital letters in place of italics (why fbook doesn’t allow italics completely befuddles me). and people that use *s to denote italics just confuse me… i keep looking for a footnote. i am old school.

32. i’ve lived in my house for almost 22 years. i never thought i’d be that person.

33. my internet service provider’s name is andy. he’s a dick. we call him “andy dick, the internet douche.”

34. i could easily become one of those 900 lb. people who can’t leave their house. it’s practically a goal of mine.

35. i am THIS close to commenting to myself on my own page. is that even possible?

36. i’m fairly tall, almost 5’9″. unfortunately, i’m not quite tall enough for my weight.

37. i have unusually, almost freakishly, large hands, feet, and head. so does my husband. unfortunately for our kids, large hands, feet, and heads are all dominant genes. and i have long, mannish arms (well, maybe not “mannish,” but certainly teenage-boyish.)

38. i am non-religious, but i have spiritual beliefs. one of my most comforting comes from buddhism, where you (the spirit/soul, not the body you’re in) choose the obstacles you want to conquer in each life, with the goal of conquering them all so to avoid re-birth. it soothes me to think the people who have had terrible obstacles – disease, loss, pain – have “chosen” to face them in their current lives, and won’t have to ever face them again. i’m not explaining this as well as how i understand it in my head, so i think i’ll shut up now.

39. i avoid doctors… medical doctors. and phd’s who call themselves doctors. but i do go to my annual gyn exam, and to the dentist twice a year. old habits die hard, i guess.

40. horses love to sneeze and wipe their noses on white shirts. okay, that’s not exactly about me, but it does explain why i don’t wear white. and why i can’t have nice things.

41.  i’m anti-war, but pro-military.  i bet a lot of the military are, too.

42.  i’m mom’s favorite.  i don’t know what i did to deserve it, but i am.

43.  i’ve cut my husband’s hair for almost 27 years.  i’d never cut anyone’s hair before, except my dog’s, and he was just crazy and cheap enough to let me do it.  i also cut my kids’ hair… they actually liked it, except for the mullet era and the resulting photographic evidence.  they still ask me for haircuts now and then… they’re cheap and crazy, too.

44.  i’ve had more “shitter’s full” mishaps than a person has a right to.  and i don’t mean the normal toilet over-flowing thing… no, no, no.  i’m talking holding tanks on trailers and septic tanks.  my most memorable was when the valve and pipe to the holding tank came loose on the trailer as i was careening down the freeway.  i looked in my mirror and could see a blue spray (the holding tank de-stinker) and those poor, poor people behind me with their windshield wipers furiously wiping away the, um, shit.  i was so thankful there wasn’t a motorcyclist behind me.

45.  i’ve had just one car wreck in my life, but it was a doozy.  another story for another day.

46.  i’ve had just 7 unplanned dismounts from horses in 45 years of riding.  2 were my own stupid fault, 2 were the horse’s stupid fault, 2 were because the horse fell from underneath me, and 1 was equipment failure.  only 1 involved a trip in the ambulance (i always say “am-blance” in my head, and not just because i was kicked in the head).  coincidentally (or was it?), the ambulance trip was just 9 days after my car wreck, in which there was no ambulance trip.  karma’s a damn bitch.

47.  i have a very short memory (always been that way… nothing to do with the kick to the head).  i don’t mind it so much, though… i forget the bad things pretty quickly, and i have constant reminders of the good things in my life all around me!

48.  i always wear a helmet when riding now… just started that during the summer of 2011.  i woke up one morning and realized that if something happened to me, my horses would suffer.  my human family would suffer, too, but they would at least know why.

49.  i subscribe to snoop dogg on fbook.  i’m trying to learn a foreign language.

50. it’s all just a lightning flash in eternity (from the beginning of time to the end of time, where there is no beginning and there is no end).  when i remember to remember this, to put the bad times in perspective, they become more bearable.  and if you’re the type who says, “sure, but that means the good times are just a lightning flash, too,” well, then, you just don’t want to be happy.  you should work on that.

amendment to #11:  “i won’t forget.”  oh, please.  who am i trying to kid?  i forget everything.