Monday, November 24, 2008

I am not a wuss.

Private guilt. Why the hell do we do it to ourselves? Feeling guilty about something that no one else notices or cares about, something that doesn't really matter, something that isn't even wrong. But the judges in our heads are fixated on it, and let us know, all day long.

Here's what I'm talking about:
When I don't take my horse out on a beautiful chilly day--partly because it's a bit chilly and partly because there's no one to ride with--I feel guilty.

It's not the cold that keeps me from riding, it's riding alone. My horse is very cautious when we're by ourselves; he's always surveying the area around us to be sure there are no predators lying in wait. Sometimes he shies at inanimate objects, sometimes he bolts a few steps when he thinks something is sneaking up behind us. Once in a while, he suddenly turns on the afterburners--and you wouldn't believe the thrust those rear engines have. Depending on where we are, it's either just annoying or downright dangerous, say, if we're on the sidewalk next to a busy road, on our way to the barn next door.

Even though I haven't fallen off (yet) and have ridden fairly well through everything he's done thus far, some days I just don't have the emotional fortitude to face it. So I find excuses to avoid riding. And then the judge in my head says, "You wuss. If you really knew how to ride, you'd just tough it out. Everyone knows you're a wuss. Wussy, wussy, wussy. "

Now here's the thing. No one cares whether I ride or not. Certainly Wolfie doesn't--he'd rather hang out in the paddock with his buddy than ride around in circles or go out on the trails. As for other riders, I'm sure the people I ride with wish I'd stop talking about this issue, but whether I ride or not is completely irrelevant to them. It just doesn't matter one way or the other.

But I care. I see it as some kind of foundational character weakness. Yet, if I look at the bigger picture, the fact that I ride at all is a pretty good testament to my courage. Horses are big and powerful. Their reactions to the unexpected can be extremely dangerous. People die riding horses. Think Christopher Reeve.

So, am I really a wuss? I suppose it depends on one's perspective. But I know I'm a fool if I listen to the voice in my head that says so. And I'd rather be a wuss than a fool.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For women only...

(Guys don't believe that women behave this way, but we all know the truth--they do, and it's getting worse and worse. I just can't stand it anymore. )

Ladies! Stop peeing all over toilet seats!

1. It's pointless--there are more germs/bacteria on the handle of the bathroom door and the stall than there are on the toilet seat. Your butt is one of the parts of your body least likely to be anywhere near your mouth, which is where the whole germ thing is really an issue. Keep the toilet seat dry, and remember to wash your hands.

2. It's not only inconsiderate, it's disrespectful--would you want your mom or your grandmother or your near-sighted best friend (or anyone) to sit in someone else's urine? No? Well then, CUT IT OUT. My 86-year-old mom can't balance herself 3 inches above the toilet seat so as to avoid sitting in that mess, and she can't see all that well. Think of her next time you pee all over the place. Someday that will be you--I guarantee it.

3. It's just plain gross--if you wouldn't pee all over the seat in your own bathroom, then don't pee all over the seat in the restrooms at movie theaters, restaurants, the DMV, the airport, or ANYWHERE ELSE.

4. It's skanky. Don't be skanky. Nobody likes a skank, especially an extremely entitled, selfish skank.

And if you should happen to find yourself in a bathroom stall where someone else has left the seat a mess, take a minute and clean it up, don't just pee on top of where the last idiot did. Pitch in, do the next woman who uses that toilet a break, and leave it cleaner than you found it. And then wash your hands with soap and hot water and give yourself a pat on the back. Good girl!

"Don't pee on the seat. Leave it dry and neat."

(BTW, I'm not the first person to blog about this--nor will I be the last, I fear. Tango Diva has written very articulately about this issue.)

'Nuff said.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Last Lines

I love last lines. I've written a lot of poems that essentially were created just for a last line that came into my head. There's nothing like a line that provides both closure and open-endedness. 

Whenever Verlyn Klinkenborg writes an essay for the NY Times, I'm totally captivated. He's an amazing writer--the writer I wish I could be. His short pieces are structured to take the reader on a brief sojourn into whatever he's thinking about--life in the country, culture, politics--and the last line of every piece is a like a lid that fits perfectly on a hand-thrown pot. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's election day, and it looks like my team will win. I am greatly relieved and also a bit concerned.

I remember when Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. I voted for him, with gusto, just as I had voted for McGovern in '72. Election night, Carter's victory was such a relief after Nixon and Ford! Ultimately, of course, it didn't turn out to be all that we had hoped for--between the economic woes and the Iran hostage situation, it was a hell of a time. Still, that moment in time when Carter was declared the victor felt damned good.

8 years ago, I was in California on business on election day. I went to bed thinking that Gore had probably won, and woke up to find that nothing about the election was clear. That lack of clarity went on for 3 weeks, with hanging chads and the ├╝ber-bitchy Florida Secretary of State, until the Supreme Court decided the whole election for us, and not, in my opinion, in our favor. The past 8 years have been an ongoing nightmare with Bush and Cheney: the amazingly appalling choices they made have done more damage than any of us could have imagined.

I don't envy Mr. Obama the many tasks that lie ahead. But I'm hopeful, which feels a bit strange after a very long period of hopelessness and haplessness. God bless us, everyone.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Great Football Names

In an earlier post, I listed some of my favorite baseball names. Last night, watching the Pats get beaten by the Colts, I started thinking about great football names. Here are a few:

Brett Favre (partially because no one who's not heard it can pronounce it properly the first time around, something that was noted in "Something About Mary")

Drew Bledsoe (the Nancy Kerrigan of quarterbacks, but still, it's a melodious football name)

Warren Moon

Kordell Stewart

Franco Harris

Tiki Barber

Lynn Swann

Jerry Rice

George Blanda

Some new additions, 11/24/08:

Ellis Hobbs

Ty Law

Lawyer Malloy

(I know, I know, too many current and former NE Patriots, but what can you do?)