10.28.2010

New Sidebar Blogs

This morning I'd like to take a moment to draw your attention to some blogs that I've recently added to my sidebar.  And yes, you're welcome, because you are indeed now 15 minutes closer to the end of your workday.

La Porte Rouge
I know this sounds like a pretentious blog name, but I stumbled upon this photographer, and I've decided she's sort of the organic rustic King Midas of Photography. Everything that she touches turns to awesome. Also, she has this beautiful new black horse so thick in the chest you could take the worlds best nap by throwing your arms around his neck, locking your fingers, and falling asleep in his blackness.  Love.

Alissa My Sister
Although my sister has had a beautiful and regularly updated blog for years, I just got around to adding a sidebar, and thus haven't gotten to show it off for the attention that it deserves.  She is NOT, and I mean NOT your average mommy blogger, if the giant black widow spider on her background wasn't your first hint.  She does talk about her children, but usually with a focused, loving and hilarious or sweet edge, depending on how close Russell came to being expelled from Kindergarten that day.  As Alissa's business cards say "mother of Russell and Alice" is an absolutely exceptional job title, if ever I heard one.

 Beyond that, she also happens to have a great horror movie advice list up right now.  Read it, I promise you will love it and never want to read my crap again.

Mr. and Mrs. Globetrot
I just barely discovered this blog via the featured post about their wedding.  They had a beautiful travel-themed wedding, oh, and for the honeymoon?  Just an 18 month trip around the world. YAH.  And they ain't staying at Hostels, neither.  Don't ask me how or why anyone has this kind of time or money, don't make me think about the painful logistics, just utterly enjoy her shots of Paris Streetfashion, and his background on the town of Split, Croatia (a place I've been dying to go since 2008...someday.) 

I would conclude by featuring my beautiful and clever sister-in-law Lacey's new blog, but I know that she would kill me. oops, was that a hotlink? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???

10.27.2010

Halloween Part Three

And now, for the epic conclusion to Halloweens Gone By.  Though like an epic conclusion you may come upon in a soap opera, epic halloweens are never really over.  There's always more ghoulish encounters to look forward to.  In fact, I take it all back.  I've got a few more up my sleeve before the season ends, regardless of how my Halloween ramblings affect my readership.  (Sorry if my stream of consciousness style is bothering you this morning, that mocha was definitely NOT decaf.)

I know I said my first Thriller was my favorite Halloween.  And it was. And so was my last Halloween, and probably the halloween 2 years before that.  I won't apologize.

Let's say then, that Halloween 2009 wins the award for Most Original, Best Random Strangers, and Best Location.

Let me set the scene for you.  I had already had a spookily cursed weekend of finishing my job at CWPT, moving out of my apartment by my selfsies, going to a Halloween party in Takoma Park the previous evening and staying far too long, and pulling into Little Sally's apartment in Maryland at an already ungodly hour.  I won't lie, and Little Sally already knows this: I did NOT want to go to a Halloween Party that night.  I was exhausted from moving and packing my car, completely emotionally drained at the end of a long arduous life on the East Coast and the bleak future ahead, and one more party was just not in my cards.  But I show up, and Little Sally is in her Scarlett Letter Hester Prynne costume, bonnet and all, and I could not refuse this woman.  I don my obligatory standby halloween costume of gypsy lady, forego the makeup, and finally ask, "so where is this party, anyway?"

when she first told me, I was only more grumpy about it, and I can't believe that I was in such a sour mood on Halloween night as to not like the sound of "oh, it's at an abandoned barn in the middle of western rural Maryland."

I have looked, and looked, and looked for the pictures that I took of that night, and alas, they were clearly the victim of several moves, cameras, albums, hard drive sweeps and external backups.  They no longer exist. Tiffanie got a few, which I will share, but not one of the actual barn. The best I can do is to tell you that it looked something like this:





 By the time we made it out there, the party was already rolling- the food was out, the drinks were aplenty, and the bonfire was in fine form.  And the fact that this party was in the middle of nowhere did not abate the flourish of costumes- in fact, may have fueled it. 


Little Sally was the only person that I knew at the party, but by the end of the night, I felt like I knew everyone. It was a truly marvelous night of homemade chili, cider, firewood and cool autumn air in the rolling hills of the mid-atlantic. 
My favorite part was the barn interior, which housed the eats.  They had spooked it out plenty with cobwebs and phony spiders, but it was already delightfully halloweenish with rusty tools, drying tobacco leaves, and menacing work tables filled with autumnal food fare.  

but beyond what a momentous night this would have been regardless, perhaps the most important thing was that it was a brief respite for both Little Sally and I to do the exact thing that people do on halloween: You become someone else, you exercise fears and beliefs that can only be truly imaginable when the veil is thinned between you and the dead, undead, and otherwise, and you do something entirely out of the ordinary for yourself, liberated by the freedoms of Halloween.  You are someone else, and thus accountable to no one. You are another person, and not under the burden of your own feelings. You are a champion of whatever you choose, as Bob Wyle says, "I'm taking a vacation, from my problems." And after everything that Little Sally and I had been through that year, a vacation was very much in order.

I will never forget the ambience, the welcoming people, the fun and food I ate that night at 1 in the morning at a strangers barn in Western Maryland.  And I will never forget how that night saved my friendship with Little Sally, and helped us make holiday history together, as we are so apt to do.
   

10.18.2010

Halloween Part Two.

My former roommate Jordanian Blossom can attest to the fact that I have been known to hoard enough Count Chocula in our kitchen pantry to get me to Valentine's Day.  And that's eating AT LEAST one bowl a day. 

A big bowl.

10.15.2010

Halloween Part One.

The best Halloween that I ever had was when I was a sophomore in High School, and it started at 6:45 in the morning. It was a dark and stormy morning.  94.9ZHT (remember that?) was giving away tickets to Thriller. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded fun, and I thought that awesome wonderful ass hat Jake would want to go with me. oh high school. Just being a drama nerd in high school is probably enough horror for one halloween, but I digress.

So what do you know, I win!  I call Jake to see if he wants to go, and I specifically remember that he didn't want to go, and he decided right then he'd rather go to the lame party, whatever.  So I invited my mom. To this day, I am glad that Jake turned me down right away.

My mom took me north, took me out for dinner, and bought me a scarf at the Gap in Trolley Square which is still one of my favorites.  We went to the show at Kingsbury Hall with absolutely no expectations at all, and were pleased to discover that 94.9 had gotten us pretty sweet seats. 

What ensued was the single most entertaining 2 hours and best halloween night of my life.  If you have never seen Odyssey Dance Theatre's Thriller, you are so so so missing out on the best way for a boring childless adult to spend their Halloween. 


My mom and I both raved about this incredible night that neither of us were expecting, and I have gone on to see it 6 more years. The only years that I've missed it were when I lived in DC.  It's funny, its brilliant, it's entertaining, and it is in my opinion the only civilized way to spend a Halloween in Utah. 

And if you're not doing anything on faux-Halloween Night, (Oct. 31st is a sunday, therefore we are going on the 30th, Saturday) consider yourself invited. 

And yes, this is a series. I have much more to say on the matter of Halloween.  (Don't think I've forgotten you, Little Sally!)

10.12.2010

Told.

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Elder Packer altered his speech as it will appear in perpetuity on the church's online version.  The most recent version changes the word "temptation" to "tendencies" and has removed the section about God's intent and whether or not people are born with same-sex tendencies.  The Trib reports that it is standard practice for speakers to slightly revise their talks before they are published. Regardless of your personal beliefs, this now more accurately portrays the previously stated views of the Church on homosexuality.

While I wish it had never been said in the first place, I am grateful that the Church is revising the statement as it will appear in digital perpetuity.  I hope that proponents of gay rights will accept the gesture for what it is, and be happy that some of the dialogue that's gone on in the past week has perhaps aided the Church in insuring that Elder Packer's comments accurately depict the Church's position, which is slightly less controversial and more understanding and compassionate.

I promise less heated and more exciting blogs in the near future. Thanks for sticking with me, friends.  

10.11.2010

Do Ask, Do Tell.

No one here should be shocked to learn that I am saddened by recent comments made in General Conference. I didn’t expect a terribly different message from the church, necessarily, I am not shocked by this position, and I respect the Church’s right to set its own guidelines for things like Temple Recommends, a process that I have for many years personally and respectfully chosen to opt out of. I have nothing but love and admiration for those who adhere to those guidelines, choose a faithful life, and who aspire to a life in continual communion with the church. That is a beautiful thing. Different from my thing, but absolutely beautiful.



I respectfully take issue with the notion put forth by President Packer from his position of religious authority that he knows without a doubt that no one is born with homosexual tendencies, his reasoning being “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” This reasoning seems to me to go against all the things that I know of God. It seems to me that God makes us all sorts of ways, and frankly does all sorts of things “to” us. He takes babies from mothers, he takes mothers from children, he gives people genetic dispositions to alcoholism, he gives people genetic dispositions to be brilliant savants at one thing and tragically weak at other things. Assuming God is intimately involved with each and every one of us on our path, God does a great many things that we cannot always understand. Some people’s paths seem so much harder than ours, and some people’s so much easier. And that is why God asks us not to judge others, and in fact, not even to judge ourselves, but to leave the judgment to him and him alone.



I have been incredibly, deeply, remarkably thankful to have Dan as my companion, who is loved and accepted and praised (“thank you for loving our crazy Lorraine!”) by my friends and family. I have been so lucky that the love that I was seeking was one so quickly accepted and appreciated by those around me (except some of my DC friends who CANNOT FATHOM falling in love and entering into marriage so quickly, to the point that some of them ceased their friendship with me).


I cannot imagine the road that others must walk in this regard, but I fervently hope that we all show love and welcome no matter the circumstance, and that no matter the reason they are this way, whether born to it, or coping with life through it, or making peace with it, we find joy in the fact that there is love in this world, and people willing to share it. And if by some random chance there is a questioning or open Mormon LGBTQ individual reading this digital spattering of stuff being tossed into the internets, know that you are LOVED, and that your beautiful, extraordinary, unique and powerful soul is worth more to God than a single mortal girl could ever express, in a million blogs over a million lifetimes.

10.06.2010

Hangover

I have mostly recovered from Kentucky, travelling, forgetting to eat for 4 days (no really. I lost 6 lbs.) and America's "going down in a glorious ball of flames" equestrian method, but in the meantime, it helps that my favorite Eventing blog is posting one stage of grief for every day of the week to help all us americans recover.  Today's?

   Stage 3 - Bargaining

Even in losing, I am having the best freaking time reading the commentary on this sport. I have an illness. 

10.05.2010

Last of Kentucky

This blog is hard to write because there is so much news to report about how the World Equestrian Games ended, and how that dramatic ending affected me as a horseman, an adult, and as wielder of my own future and interpreter of my past.




After catapulting themselves from 7th place to 2nd place on the second day of competition, Team USA had big pressure on them, certainly. With Britain far ahead and the Canadians and Kiwis fractions of points behind the US, They had to be nearly perfect. Each of the 4 team horses has to jump about 15 jumps, 4 feet high, with poles that will fall with a soft rub of any hoof. That pole falls=4 points. And you have to go fast, or you get time faults too.


The US's Boyd Martin went spectacularly clean, and finished both his cross country ride and stadium round without a single fault or time error, an extraordinary feat, and in his very first international event. We’re going to see more of that boy I think.




Buck came out and had another rail down, to add to the big refusal that he had on cross country the day before. He’s got some work to do before he represents the US again I think.

Phillip Dutton, an utter veteran, had a beautiful round, but had an uncharacteristic rail down, dropping America from silver to bronze in a blink, and putting Canada into position to take the silver. This was not devastating for me, I was happy to take any medal color really, and I knew that Canada could potentially still knock a rail or two down. And I was feeling good, knowing that Karen O’Connor, my veteran and childhood hero, was our last rider.

Karen came out looking determined and poised, as always. Girl has a fierce game face. It was fence #4, a solid gate panel, that in a flash wiped out 8 years of fantasizing about the US taking a medal on American Soil. Karen’s horse, Mandiba, got too close the fence, something in the sport we call “going long” or “in too deep” and when that happens, the horse can’t get himself vertical enough to clear the fence. Some horses will haplessly crash themselves through a fence with their momentum, and some will slide to a stop. Mandiba did the latter, a refusal. A refusal in Stadium jumping is 4 faults, but worse is that it costs you time, and you have still have to attempt that fence again, and usually the horse is very wary and unnerved. And so is the rider. In a flash, that 4 fault refusal turns into another 4 faults when they do finally jump it and knock it down, and another 4 when Karen goes 4 seconds over time. In somewhere between a flash of time and the last 20 seconds of the course, America plummeted from 3rd to 4th, and out of the medals.



Let me see if I can equate this for the lay reader. Remember when John Stockton took that CRAZY 3 point buzzer shot against San Antonio to get the Jazz to the Finals against the Bulls? Pretend he’d missed it.

And then pretend that you’d flown 1,000 miles and spent your life savings to see him take that shot.

Yeah.

And that’s when I got a little more sad than I probably should have, and couldn’t quite get over how sad Karen herself must be. And I had to ask myself why I really came here. Did I come to see my coveted American riders demonstrate their dominance? Was my childhood dream to see Karen win, or to see her ride at all? Is there more to my wildly fierce commitment to their success than mere fandom? After all, what greater vicarious thrill could there be than to obsessively follow international sports heroes in their dangerous and competitive lifestyles? Am I that afraid of my own life that THIS is more important? These questions required a hard look, that after days of being in Kentucky dreamland, I was wholly unprepared to ask myself. PS- that is the perfect time to ask yourself stuff like this. You always get honest answers.

And I think the answer I got is this: My love for horses has not waned in the slightest. If anything, my love has increased after seeing so many horses give absolutely anything and everything asked of them. A horse’s trust is not always gained, but once it is, they will burst their heart for you, and I saw many profound examples of that this weekend. But perhaps my obsession for the international sport has changed into something more realistic and mature. I want my experience with horses to be authentic to me and what I want from that relationship, and not a half hearted attempt at mimicry, or a whole hearted attempt at vicarious rides. There is no such thing. No matter how hard you rock with that horse in the grandstands, he can’t feel you.

Moreover, it’s true for my whole life. My marriage shouldn’t be like anyone else’s, and no one else’s should be my attempt. My career shouldn’t follow anyone else’s path, and I won’t waste time coveting the life of others. I will earn my own unique future that I have a feeling will surprise even me at the end of my life.
The final personal revelations of these games are that I have a wonderful husband who was 1,000 miles too far away and was genuinely supportive that I was spending our nonexistent money to do this, and that I have a wonderful mother who STUCK me with this ridiculous genetic makeup of horse loving (it’s NOT a choice, it’s NOT something that counseling or prayer can help you overcome, it’s something you‘re BORN with.) and patiently, nay, excitedly listened to all my WEG confessions and facts, while I excitedly listened to her AMAZING Zenyatta racehorse stories on the other side of the country. I realized all over again in this life how lucky I am to have a mom for forever who gets this feeling, and that we both cry when we tell each other our best horse stories.

And on a final note of the games, I have to say one more thing. Canada Rocks.






The Canadian Eventing team is young in age, young in experience, and very very new to winning. The last time that Canada was on an international podium in this sport was 1978. And this team SHOWED UP. All 6 riders went clear in cross country (unheard of) and the final four riders had a single rail down on day three. They were underdogs, hard workers, and really nice people. For that reason, I am thrilled that they were awarded with a World Equestrian Games Silver Medal. And seriously, I think they were the happiest silver medalists I’ve ever seen, in any sport, at any international competition ever. I am nothing short of thrilled for them, and their well deserved medal was the Neosporin to my razor -thin USA paper cut.

Horses are great. Read this, be glad that you weren’t born with my mother and mine’s tragic, expensive, incurable condition not covered by even the best health insurance, and go do something outside, because it’s a pristinely beautiful world out there.

10.03.2010

Day Two in Kentucky

THRILLS SPILLS and CHAMPIONS!

day two was nothing short of totally extraordinary.  The US Eventing Team went from a 7th place overall finish in day one of dressage to being in position to clutch the SILVER medal!  As mentioned earlier, day 2 is when the horses are expected to cover about 5 miles of ground and jump about 25-30 natural obstacles as they go.  Refusing or running around the jumps results in penalties, as does a fall of the rider. A fall of the horse is grounds for immediate disqualification.  and yes, this does happen, and yes, it happened today. 

there were some brilliant rides through some truly terrifying stuff.  I will post my favorite of these below.  Oh, and Great Britain is currently in first, and Canada right on our heels in third.  This is monumental for Canada by the way.  All of their riders went clear yesterday, having the rides of their lives, and i can't help but root for this 5 girl/1guy team of absolutely awesome people. Plus, Hawley Bennet of Canada actually trains in Temeculah near my parent's house outside San Diego, so it's practically like rooting for the hometown girl.

In terms of me, haha, well you can ask dan how deliriously bad i am at communicating outwardly my feelings about being here. i can't talk good right now.  brains are too busy on horse things. that is exacerbated by the fact that yesterday in an attempt to see every jump on course, i ended up walking it about 2.5 times, which with short cuts equates to about 8-9 miles of walking, not counting the 3/4 mile walk to and from the car from the grounds. So i am deliriously happy and deliriously tired.  And if you aren't those things at the end of fulfilling your life dreams, then your life dreams kind of suck.

here are pictures.

                                    okay, you can have ONE of me. only because i'm wearing mom's hat.
                                                 
                                          a cloudy but lovely day for a cross country ride.

the warmup ring

            running to the fences 
                                                 a large but rather welcoming fence.
 big wide scary jumps. This is William Fox-Pitt of Britain, doing brilliantly.
i love the perspective on this shot.  do you know how scary that would be???


this is what we call in our sport "insanity".  also, "almost dying."

i hope you appreciate the creative obstacle. quack!

the last rider on the last fence! what a day!!!
sunset over kentucky.  I will have more either tonight or tomorrow on the final results!

10.02.2010

Day One in Kentucky

after a day of close travel calls, a la delayed flights, car trouble with my rental car, insane parking procedures, and hours of waiting in line for a shuttle, I made it to the park with literally only SECONDS to spare before the very first horse stepped out for the Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle.  `



it was extraoardinary. i have so much to say and so little time to say it, but i will tell you that FUEGO stole the show.  Viva Espana! he got the best cheers of the night from the crowd, i literally had tears, and despite the fact that he didn't place, he will be the horse that lives in the hearts of the audience forever. 

seeing Ashley Holzer of Canada take the lead and celebrate with hugs, kisses and tears from her fellow canadians on my way to the portajohn. very often this moment is not about winning or even getting a medal, but about achieving your personal best score under pressure, and Ashley did that with extraordinary grace.  Canada is my new favorite neighbor.


having people cheer at the portajohn for the speed with which I used the portajohn.  I am my own winner.
(there is no picture of that, mercifully)

and of course, seeing Steffen Peters of the US take bronze and Totilas of the Netherlands absolutely kill it and take his third gold medal of these games.  gorgeous gorgeous animal.

edward and totilas




                                Steffen and Ravel

more to come, death defying cross country and lots and lots of horse vendor everdosing tomorrow! (i promise not to buy TOO many things i don't need, dan!)