The Night Train

Being obsessed with horses doesn't necessarily guarantee that you're going to make it to the barn every day.  It's a terribly annoying reality. It would be much more fair if loving something fiercely meant that the universe would grant you daily freedom to immerse yourself in said fiercely-loved thing. Boooo, Universe. (nevermind, don't boo the universe. That seems like a pretty terrible idea.)

But in this case, it worked out. Tonight I didn't get to the barn until around 7:30. Posie had already been fed, and only a few boarders were there just wrapping up. As I groomed Posie and refilled her salt bucket, the arena lights were turned off, leaving only the stall lights glowing and the radio humming. The last woman there kindly showed me how to close up the barn when I was finished, and I had the whole place to myself.

The dark arena seemed too good to pass up, and I decided to take Posie in for a quick session on foot. I led her in and let our eyes adjust to the single bulb in the far corner, and the light coming in from the moon and reflective snow outside. Since horses have built-in night goggles, Posie wasn't phased in the slightest, and she worked out beautifully. She was sound and true as a whistle; her ears were pricked and her energy high.  She jogged in perfect beat to the Pink Floyd coming over the ambient speakers. For a moment, it really felt like the dark side of the moon.

I took off her halter to let her move on her own, and she took off at a run and gave a good spring buck. She and I played in the dark for awhile, running back and forth across the dark flat dirt before she slowed down and walked toward me, letting me hold the weight of her head in my hands. I gave her scratches in her favorite places, and then walked her back to her stall for the night.  I gave her the apple slices out of my happy meal, and turned off the lights.

It was kind of a badass night at the barn.


An Excerpt of Marriage

Lorraine: You will like this. "One of things about beards is that, when men reach a certain age, they'd like to see if they can grow one. It's a phenomenon I understand very well. After you get over the itchy face, you go, 'Oh, I don't have to shave, that's cool.' And then you move into the philosophical thing-- people say, 'You look weird, you have a beard.' And you say, 'No, actually, it's weird to shave.' Having a beard is natural. When you think about it, shaving it off is quite weird."
-- Paul McCartney, on his Ram-era facial hair

Dan: That is the best quote ever.
I want to put that on a plaque and hang it somewhere important.

Lorraine: I'll cross stitch it for you.



Winter Wardrobe

I dearly loved the sunset that graced this blog for the past 6 months. I took it from the airplane on my last visit to California, and I think the colors perfectly symbolized my adoration of warm summer nights, the glorious colors of the sunset, and my renewed connection to the American West.

When Dan and I were at a pow wow this summer, I found these earrings that looked identical to this photograph.  I wanted them, but decided to be incredibly responsible, judicious, frugal, and conscientious.

I have regretted it ever since. Stupid frugality.

The new background is a photo that was taken on my phone in downtown Salt Lake City on a date with my person. It is a detail from the door of what is now a Zion's First National Bank, but was first known as the Octogon House, built in 1857. It has been a great many businesses, been known by many names, and it once even had many more floors.  Every inch of it harks to another era, but which era is hard to say. It is a culmination of years, but timeless all the same. She's a treasure.

And you? You're a treasure. You being here on the earth and enjoying your life? Totally a treasure.

Green Tea Lattes from Starbucks? Definitely a treasure.

This weekend is my birthday, and I have never felt so grateful for the chance to acknowledge it. Life is incredibly beautiful and incredibly breakable. There is a temptation to feel guilty for being okay, for being here, for getting another birthday.  But I have a precious human life, and this year, I want to live by the words of my friend the Double Lung Transplant Opera Singer: I want to live a life worth dying for.

I'm going to spend genuine time with the people I love. I'm going to relish having Posie the Mustang near me all winter at an amazing all-indoors barn full of kind and friendly horse people. I'm going to love my body for carting my soul all over the world. I'm going to let myself change authentically. I may or may not watch less reality TV. I'm going to choose my battles, and not let Facebook choose them for me.

 I'm going to be a better writer, a better wife, a better employee, a better friend.

I'm going to be a writer, a wife, an employee, and a friend, and be proud of myself for being all those things no matter what. I'm going to tell some stories. I'm going to do some really stupid things unintentionally, and I promise that I will tell you about it when I do.

Thank you for a great year, Internets. And thanks for the LOLcats.

(Oh, and I promise that this will be my last serious and self indulgent post for awhile. If you're still here, you've earned at least 3 or 4 self deprecating tales of my humorous existence for the sludge of impending winter doom you've trudged through with me!)



TwelveTwelveTwelve (And Night 5)

I wasn't paying attention when the clock changed.

I was deep in the photos and conversation threads on Ancestry and JewishGen when the twelve o'clock hour rolled by. The number is a beautiful one, a rare one, but it's more than 12/12/12 to me today. It's the fifth night of Hanukkah.

Every year, the silver menorah of partly lit candles remind me that one-eighth of me is connected to thousands of years of stories about one group of people.

FYI: This is not a post about Israel and Palestine. Lucky you.

It is about my search to find my family.  The man that connects me to all this, my biological grandfather, was not a part of my life, and his own life was complicated. I can't do anything in my life to reconcile that. I can't do anything to connect to him or to understand him, and I don't know that I would want to if I could.  It's funny then that it's him that connects me to this story of the Jews, this story that I want so badly to know, to understand, to be a part of. As the fractions get ever smaller, I feel like I owe it to them to know their names. And, I suppose, I want to believe in every part of me.

My great great grandmother and grandfather boarded a boat in 1914 in Europe and disembarked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with their children, leaving behind Bessarabia, or what is now Moldova. Yeah, that weird former Soviet Union country I visited three years ago. I know their names, some of their experiences in America, more or less, and that they were Jewish. They spoke yiddish. They were pottery merchants in Susleni, Moldova before they moved to the capital city of Chisinau, and then to the Americas.  They left just in time, because in the decades to come, Soviets would wipe out huge swaths of Jews in that territory. But there is so much left to know.

Less than a century after my ancestors left Moldova, I stood in the village of Susleni and looked at the foundation of a house, which the owner told me was the same foundation of the Synagogue before it was "bombed".  I can't imagine what my ancestors would think of me going back to that place. Would they be touched, or horrified, or embarrassed, or hopeful?

The only photo I have of the house built on the Synagogue's foundation

When they arrived, they changed their last name from Abramovicz to Abrams. They changed their first names, too. I have no idea if my great great grandparents continued to practice Judaism, though they were buried in a Jewish Cemetery. My great grandmother became a Christian Rosicrucian, and that was the end of Judaism in my family.

I don't think I'm looking to convert from one complicated religion to another, but I am looking to save the few scraps of their memory that are left, and honor it the only way I know how: To light a few candles, search a few dusty documents, and show them that we haven't forgotten.

On this Gregorian calendar day of rhythmic numbers, I'm trying to put that synchronicity to work.  I'm looking for the hidden messages, buried deep in the heart of the flame.