Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recent craigslist ad

SF bay area craigslist > south bay > pets

STUBBORN HORSE.... CHEAP! (san jose east)

Reply to: comm-858155452@craigslist.org [?]
Date: 2008-09-28, 1:55AM PDT

I have a 4 yr old TB mare who just happens to be the most STUBBORN horse in the world. She's got TONS of potential to be a great gymkhana or roping horse, but she's just got a few quirks- like being "stuck in reverse." Shes saddlebroke, and perfectly rideable, that is, however, if you can actually manage to stay put and then convince her to go FORWARD, not BACKWARD. She'll go backwards all day, just not forward. Go figure. She's a bit hoppy, too. Likes to hop around a lot when you're in the saddle...oh yes, and let's not forget her favorite habit, trying to step on you when youre leading her anywhere. Yep, she's got a few issues. **HOWEVER** The problem is, I just dont have enough time to spend with her...I broke her myself and I'd be able to work out all her kinks if I only had the time....but sadly, I dont. She REALLY doea have the potential to be a GREAT horse for someone who has enough time and experience to work with her-that I am POSITIVE of. I need to find somebody ASAP who is willing to help her learn how to become that aweesome horse we all know she's gonna be. Adoption fee is $800, but at this point thats VERY negotiable...please E-mail me for pics and any inquiries...thanks.
PostingID: 858155452


Apologies to Fugly: Wow. You say you trained her yourself? And you can fix all those problems yourself if you only had the time? Huh. "Stuck in reverse" is such a testament to your training abilities too. Go figure. And she can't lead. And she's "hoppy" AND you know she's going to be awesome. Yikes.

There's something fairly offensive about putting this ad up for all the world to see. Or embarrassing? Or, I dunno, idiotic?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sixes and Sevens

I should blog more.

I should talk about what's on my mind, but I don't want to seem pushy about it.

Look at meeee.

Or don't. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Lengthy ramblings of a confused person. I'm at sixes and sevens as they say. Sort of all over the place.

I set up a visit for next weekend at a friend's horse farm about an hour away. Someone I've never met, but whom I've talked to on a guinea pig care message board and with whom I've exchanged long emails is meeting me at my friend's farm. This girl was posting on the guinea pig board about her riding lessons, the descriptions of which were appalling, and a group of us told her to "go find a better instructor." Long story short, the owner of the horse farm I'm visiting gave me a suggestion of a horse trainer in the area for this girl I don't really know. My good deed for the month of May. Or was it April?

It's weird that I've invited her to come along -- I'm fairly protective of horse farm visits -- they seem private to me. The farm owner, M, was a dear though. While I was trying to set this up he pointed out that I *could* visit more than once a year. As in, be social. Drop in with or without your friend.

Stuff like that throws me.

Yeah, I know I could. And I know I would be welcome, and all that, but ... I dunno. I worry that I'd be a hanger-on, wearing out my welcome because I can't read the social cues that say, "Now would be a good time to head home." So I never begin. Which is too bad, because I think M could use the company.

Who knows, maybe Leslie will fall in love with one of his horses. Maybe he gets a sale from this? Maybe a new convert to preservation breeding and Arabian sporthorses?

Horses. A few more of my aunt's horses have died since the last time I wrote about them. Hardly surprising, but I'm like the neglectful older cousin who shows up at Thanksgiving -- all the horses I knew are permanently stuck in their first grade school pictures. The ones with the weird stripey shirts and bad glasses. Frozen in weird shy gawkiness. But actually, they're really getting old some of them. The fine old man I wrote about before, the one I visited in Georgia a few years ago recovered from his liver failure, but has had to have an eye removed due to cancer. Or glaucoma? I don't remember exactly. But I'm not going to update my mental image of him -- he's still an iron grey twelve year old in my head. Jeez. She died in 1991. Some days I'm surprised there are any left at all.

Stuff like that throws me too.

Neo's doing well in home school -- I'm making her read and write a ton. So far we've done Ethan Frome, To Kill A Mockingbird, Shane, and now she's working on Lord of the Flies. Her writing's improving, but she's still not in the habit of finding examples in the text. I think she doesn't take notes.

I'm still on the Middle Schools' autodialer list though. Since I've pulled her enrollment, I've been invited to sell cookie dough for the PTA, attend the Back to School Night, and bring my daughter (!) to Muffins for Moms. Neo really wanted to crash the "Muffins for Moms" event just to stir shit up, but no, I'm not gate-crashing an event I never much liked in the first place.

Saul's doing well at school -- we've started him on Prozac. Finally. Of course now is when my mother starts sending me "THE STORY" from the New York Times Magazine about how awful it is to live with a bipolar child. Ugh. Shake it off. I didn't go to her seventieth birthday, nor did I send my brother glowing remarks about her which he was to have read to the assembled masses. Dear Butcher told me just to rewrite the obituary (three pages) she sent me. See if she'd notice. But I didn't bother. She didn't get flowers either. I can't afford them. So I'm officially on a Do Not Call list from my mother. She doesn't call me now, and I'm not gritting my teeth when the phone rings. It's OK. Still feel bad for my Dad though. Poor guy stuck in crazy land.

Dear Butcher's away in NYC with the girls. My nephew had his Bar Mitzvah. Saul and I stayed home. Apparently a good time was had by all. I sort of thought that maybe I'd "get something done" while Dear Butcher was away. But it's been hot and mostly I slept. Today I raked the entire back yard, scraping up the brown straw that stands in for a lawn in my back yard and made an enormous compost pile. Sort of a stupid chore, but one I've been meaning to do. But it's not what I *wanted* to get done while I had time to work on the house, but it's what I chose to do, so it must have been what I wanted to get done at some level.

Anyway, while I was raking, I kept thinking about The Last of The Mohicans (movie) and The Last of the Mohicans (book). I tried reading the book when I heard the movie was coming out -- Daniel Day-Lewis was quite an attraction even in the trailers -- and I realized pretty quickly that the book does live up to every awful thing Mark Twain ever said about it. Yet it's beloved but boring as hell. The movie on the other hand.... ::fans self:: Wow. There's a bit of a story. Good visuals. Good characters. Good romance. How in the WORLD did someone get from Hawkeye (wise-crackin old man) and Alice to Nathaniel (shirtless hunk) and Cora? It's like the difference between The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Anyway. It got stuck in my head, the movie I mean. When I came inside to make dinner for Saul, I discovered (after much scrolling through excessively long menus -- I hate you Comcast) that The Last of the Mohicans was a free movie on On Demand. I love you Comcast!

Ugh. My neighbors are being loud. I want to either throw something at them or go hide somewhere under a blanket. Snarl.

Anyway. Thoughts on the recent viewing. Great romance. Still love that part. Action? I dunno. I think Michael Mann sort of overdid parts of it -- the battle scenes aren't quite as I remembered them I guess. Dialog? Not so much -- sometimes Nathaniel seems folksy and sometimes he seems modern. But what absolutely works one hundred percent is Nathaniel's brooding devotion to Cora. Perfect. Faint-worthy.

But I must be all out of sorts. Or something. Because now it's like a seed in my teeth. I'm disappointed in how much I liked it? Or annoyed that it's not based on a book that I can go linger over? There aren't any scenes at all that I can replay in my head. Nathaniel runs. Right at Cora. Nathaniel runs again. Nathaniel looks at Cora: "What are you looking at?" Long Pause "You." Uh, guys? This isn't working for me.

And don't remind me of the dialog under the waterfall. I'm not going there.

OK, maybe I am.

He's yelling so loud you can't hear what he's saying other than that he's going to leave her so she can die because he might be able to save her if the marauding Indians decide not to kill her outright, even though they've been trying to kill her THE ENTIRE MOVIE specifically targeting her in not one, but TWO battle scenes. Yes, if they decide suddenly not to kill her then, once he's jumped through this waterfall and once his gunpowder has dried (Does jumping THROUGH a waterfall help this?), then he might have a chance to save her which he doesn't have now, so stay alive until I come back, here's a romantic farewell for you -- I'll find a way to find you no matter what.

If I were twenty, I might be melting. I was pretty stupid at twenty. At forty, I sincerely want to stomp on his instep and assuredly grab a hold of him as he thunders past. I prefer to live too, you know. I remember seeing this in the the theater and trying to figure out what scene had been cut because the damn thing made no sense. Still doesn't.

Oh look, now I'm all whipped up over a scene I don't much care for. That's helpful.

Here, what I meant to say when I started this thing about Hawkeye/Nathaniel is that I'm reminded of a rather painful conversation Dear Butcher and I had the other night about early romances. I had this long on-again/off-again relationship with Woody just before I went to the circus and met Dear Butcher on my first night. Dear Butcher started off as a rebound fling after Woody. (Obviously he's not that anymore, but still. That's gotta be some sort of a diss. Isn't it?)

Woody looked A LOT like Daniel Day-Lewis. Even when Daniel Day-Lewis was all twisted up in "My Left Foot" he reminded me of Woody. If you could imagine Daniel Day-Lewis playing Hugh Grant, with the slightly raised single eyebrow, cocked head, and sentences that always end in questions? That would be Woody. Tall. Thin with oddly broad shoulders. High forehead. Long fingers. Nervous mannerisms. Piercing eyes. Lovely hair. And totally unable to commit to moving out of his parent's house, getting out from under the thumb of a ridiculous boss, and really, when it comes down to it, loving me.

But boy did I love him. Wow. Infatuation much? Yikes.

I left for the circus in 1989, came back in 1990. My aunt died in 1991, and by 1993 was living with Dear Butcher in Boston. We married in 1994, moved to CA in 1995 and had Neo in 1995.

The Last of the Mohicans 1992
Age of Innocence 1993
Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994
Sense and Sensibility 1995 (Although Alan Rickman did steal some thunder there. "The air is filled with spices" indeed.)

Each one of these films, I sort of, I dunno, felt like I was cheating on Dear Butcher when I watched them? Kind of? I keep thinking that they must have been made in the late eighties, when I was dating Woody, but no. They weren't. Don't delude yourself. But really, come on now. Liking the looks of a famous actor and enjoying the movies he's in; that's not bad. (Oh wait, there's two actors. Shut up.) Dear Butcher has his crushes too.

Agh. I'm at sixes and sevens.

I meant to talk about this weird conversation. Dear Butcher asked me (brave of him) what it was about earlier relationships that cause me remember them in detail, or with what seems like a higher intensity. I think he even asked if I ever talked about him that way. I replied in a rather off-handed way, "I don't do that sort of love any more." Or something like that -- I don't remember exactly what I said, but I'll bet Dear Butcher does. It was pretty callous. And mean once it was out of my mouth. And then I had to hurriedly explain myself, as what I had said was so awful.

I used to create fantasies about people and let myself get all washed away. I hung around Woody for years, having long (three hour) conversations with him in his car after work. We made out. We went clothes shopping together. We worked the same shift at the same store. And then he announced that he had asked another girl to go out with him, and he hoped that I would be happy for him. I so wanted him to be happy. I told him I was. And still we had three hour conversations. I knew his work schedule -- he had to have been spending more time with me than he was with her. We spent the weekends together going to crafts fairs. He brought me over to her apartment one time to listen to her Billie Holiday records when he found out that I liked Billie Holiday. (Gee. Did I let that slip?) And she wanted him to be happy, so she invited me to sit on the couch next to him while she sat on the chair.

And then she broke up with him and I held his bony shoulders while he cried on my bed. Later that year we made out while my dad was near death in the hospital. My memories of Woody always include being half-undressed on the warm side of an iced-over windshield. And then we broke up again. This went on forever. The man liked Winnie the Pooh for goodness sake. I think he wanted to be Christopher Robin and hide in a tree somewhere. And I would be his ever faithful Maid Marian. Or Rabbit, or some such thing. Just as soon as he noticed me long enough to realize that I was in love with him. But it wasn't love? I think? Maybe it was possessiveness? Or desperation? I think he was too desperate for constant companionship to leave me behind and go get a girlfriend, and he was too scared of possible rejection to commit to me as a lover. I was no better. I let him ooze around in his discomforts because he was so endearing while he was damaged and so euphoric when he told himself he was strong. One day we would be euphoric together. I just knew it.

But finally, ultimately. It was enough. He broke it off with me after I told him that his ex-girlfriend was a jerk for showing up to my house on Valentine's Day when she knew I was cooking him dinner. He said I wasn't supportive enough of his needs. God, that killed me. Now, I'd just laugh in his face or cut him down to size with my quick little tongue. But at the time, I crumpled.

So after the fascination with the abusive guy, and after the sweetest infatuation with the wimpiest guy ever, I don't do that kind of love anymore. Not in real life. Which is too bad for Dear Butcher, because he deserves it. But I can't crack that goo-pot open. Too much. Too much like drowning, I think. Beautiful while you look up at the sky from underneath the water, but deadly.

Somehow, I don't remember how, I explained this to Dear Butcher. It was awkward, but those sorts of conversations are in real life. That I relied on him and I loved him, but I wasn't ever going to wax rhapsodic about him and this was a good thing.

So all this is to say that I'm thinking about fantasies. That fantasy of the guy who stares into your eyes for much longer than is comfortable and is intriguing rather than frightening. The fantasy of the guy who is strong enough to protect you and who proves it by jumping through waterfalls to survive only by the force of his own will. The fantasy of the action that would piss you off or terrify you in real life but which is endearing and romantic in a story. The fantasy of a clean house that never needs cleaning, or having the unerring need to demonstrate your love for someone by keeping the ranch running straight and true. The fantasy of the conversation that sounds poetic and heartfelt in a story but feels harsh and awkward in real life. The fantasy of a slow walk with a good friend through a sunny field filled with warm horses where the wind is gentle and there is no conversation other than the exact one you want to be having at that very moment.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

National Politics

Is it true that Sarah Palin's husband has been a member of a secessionist party for a decade? And that she addressed their conventions?

What the hell. I thought people vetted these candidates. Who the hell is in charge of this McCain campaign anyway? Too weird.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hat Tip To JM Carr

I love this cover.

And I totally have both versions stuk in my hed.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Well, we took the plunge and pulled Neo from the public school. It's been a while in coming -- I've been asking them to enhance her program there since last fall. I asked again this spring. I asked again over the summer. I asked the week before school started. I asked on the second day of school. I talked to the VP at the Middle School and spoke to the Principal at the High School.

Even though the Middle School sends advanced Math students to the High School to take High School level classes, the same cannot be done for Neo. It doesn't matter that she's in the gifted and talented program (GATE). It doesn't matter that the High School Math department easily incorporates eighth graders into freshman classes. It doesn't matter that NO ONE in the school system can design an independent study program for her in English and History. It can't be done.

(So far, as a GATE student, one who was identified in fifth grade, my daughter has had one field trip to a science museum, one field trip to a paint-your-own pottery studio, one trip to an ice cream store, and a step aerobics class. Sigh. Last year the teachers said they would assign her extra work, and then partway through the year admitted that they didn't know how to. Sigh. Surely there's some other book other than A Christmas Carol you could ask her to read? Right? Beuller? Last year Neo read the references at the back of her World History text book and read, on her own, two classics of Japanese literature, The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji, both of which are considered to be standard required texts for college level students studying Japanese history. "Isn't that wonderful!" the teachers exclaim. Yet none of them can think of a single book to assign her for extra work in any of her classes. Didn't you all READ anything when you were in college? Sigh.)

So after years of going to one meeting after another, I gave up. No more meetings. Enough.

Neo has been asking to be homeschooled for over a year. I tried to make this work in the system, I really did, but no more. There's a local charter school with a "learning center" here in town which is home-based. You must follow the CA curriculum, and you meet with a credentialed teacher once a month, but the learning goes on at home. Neo will be taking an Algebra I class at the charter "learning center" in a classroom setting, and she will be working with a local artist. Other than that, it's up to her and me.

Of course, now that I've pulled her from school, the district's falling all over itself to try to set up a program for her. I'll still go to meetings on it -- if they can prove to me that it will get done, I'll consider putting her back in school. But I have very little confidence that they'll actually do much for her. The High School is actively blocking her advancement, so nothing will get off the ground.

In the meantime, the charter school adviser would like to advance her into high school. That's fine with me. We'll get a curriculum set this week.

Since she's been home, I gave her a copy of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which she read with great interest. We talked about persuasive writing, the multiple meanings of the title, and why Colonists might have gravitated to Paine's pamphlet. (American History is an eighth grade subject.) We watched Obama's speech together on Thursday, and she heard Dear Butcher and I say over and over, "What a great speech." In the shower on Friday morning I came up with an assignment.

I pulled a transcript of the speech off the web and printed it out with no paragraph breaks. Then I had her listen to the speech again and mark on the transcript where the paragraph breaks should go. I also had her put the last third into an outline format.

"OK, so WHY is that speech a good speech?"

"It's logical."

"And how do you know where the paragraph breaks go?"

"He tells you. He sets out what he's going to talk about, and then when he's done talking about that idea, he goes to a new paragraph."

"So, persuasive writing is the most highly constructed form of writing. And speaking. You can't go off on tangents, and you have to use facts to convince the audience. Right?"


"OK, so talk to me about topic sentences. Why do your teachers always talk about topic sentences?"

"Well, I guess they help with outlining?"

"Sorta. We did this backwards. We looked at a speech and pulled it apart to look at the structure. But can you see how you could build UP to a good speech or a good essay if you worked on your structure a lot first?"


"And do you see why transitions and topic sentences are a good idea?"


"Good. Let's save this stuff you printed for the teacher when we see her."



"You're not going to make me write a forty five minute speech, are you?"

Oh, how the evil wheels of parental punishment do turn when offered that lovely inspiration. "No kid. We're done. I just wanted to make a final point about WHY you should should learn this stuff. That' s all. Now let's go on to reading something fun and writing about that."

She just finished reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I may have her start examining descriptive passages.