30 Day Challenge ~ Day 2 ~ Scared Stiff

Okay so I may have skipped out on doing Day 2 on Saturday when I was SUPPOSED to do it, but it’s called the ’30 DAY Challenge’ not ’30 CONSECUTIVE Days Challenge’ so I’m good. Maybe.

Today’s challenge is DESCRIBE 3 LEGITIMATE FEARS YOU HAVE AND EXPLAIN HOW THEY BECAME FEARS.

 

Fear Number One: Open Water

I am terrified of open water. Such as the ocean. I feel exposed. Like someone or something could grab me and kill me at any second. I get seriously creeped out just thinking about what could be underneath the surface of the water staring back at me, and if I am in a large amount of water (even big swimming pools), I can really freak out. When I was a little I took swimming lessons at the YMCA, and though I loved swimming and I still do, I had serious issues with the deep end of the pool because some genius though it would be appropriate to put a life sized mosaic of a killer whale on the bottom l. It was a scary looking thing, and even worse when you were swimming above it. I kept thinking of it coming to life and eating me or dragging me down. And the ocean is huge. We have yet to reach the ocean floor. And when you fall in and look around, there is nothing. Just open water, deep and blue and stretching out all around you. It’s just..ugh.

Fear Number Two: Needles

I got my ears pierced when I was 18 years old. It wasn’t because my parents didn’t want me to get them pierced, it was because I was too afraid to. You see, piercings involve needles. I don’t do needles. However, when my 7 year old sister said she was going to get her ears pierced, I decided that if she could do it, so could I. my mother took us to the mall, and we waited for our imminent piercings. Somehow I went first to be an ‘example’ for Natalie, and I sat on the chair while the girl chatted away and doused my earlobe in alcohol and lined up her needle gun. She pulled the trigger and this horrible popping sound exploded and I felt a sharp stabbing, and then it wad done and I had to do the next one. The second one was done without a hitch and I got down to wait for Natalie. As I stood by my mother and watched Natalie hardly flinch, I started to get woozy, thinking of what I had just done. A small sliver of silver metal had just poked, stabbed and then come out of the other side of my ear, leaving a hole where there was now a little glittering blue fake diamond being held on by yet another small, thin needle. I turned green and had to sit down, and for the rest of the day my mother pumped me with sugar and water to fight of the waves of nausea.
I don’t do needles. Getting my ears pierced was just a one time thing, but getting shots is even worse. I faint. I scream. I go into hysterics. Nurses have to hold me down. I just can’t do it. The feeling of that needle piercing into my flesh and then injecting a liquid…it makes my whole arm go numb and I can’t open my eyes or sit up for the rest of the day. It’s awful. I still get a little dizzy changing out my earrings. Uuuughhh.

Fear Number Three: Getting Murdered

Every since I was a kid I have had this paralyzing dread of getting murdered. I couldn’t go upstairs to my room by myself without feeling like I was being watched. I couldn’t sleep with the lights off. Walking outside at night was simply not going to happen, and being home alone was like a form of torture. Even though I have gotten a bit better, I still find myself looking over my shoulder and checking all of my closets and behind the shower curtain. I have nightmares that are all the same; my death. But that’s a very weird, disturbing story, and I don’t really feel quite that comfortable and open enough to tell that tale yet. All you need to know is that I can’t walk five steps without looking over my shoulder, and I’ll probably always be like that.

 

Ugh, now that I have sufficiently creeped myself out, I am going to go find some gelato. Stay lovely.

30 Day Challenge ~ Day 1 ~ Randomize

I found this on the wonderful Google Images, so if anyone asks it is not mine and no I do not take credit for it.

Anyway, as I said in my first ever Obligatory ‘About Me’ First Post, I LOVE questionnaires. And the only thing that I love more than questionnaires are challenges. I don’t know why. Maybe they just give me something to do. Maybe they make me feel accomplished. Maybe I just like weird things, who knows.

The first challenge of this 30 day adventure is:

LIST 20 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT YOURSELF.

Here we go, kiddies.

 

  1. I was a vegetarian for the first 18 years of my life.
  2. I am allergic to cats.
  3. The only reason I am not overweight is because I am literally too lazy to make myself food sometimes.
  4. I absolutely hate touching yarn. I can’t stand the way it feels.
  5. When I listen to songs I imagine myself singing the song on a stage in front of people and being a total bad ass.
  6. I can twist my arms all the way around so they look ‘inside out’.
  7. My favorite food is now steak, though when I was a vegetarian it was Alfredo pizza.
  8. I buy journals and notebooks like addicts buy drugs and then never touch them.
  9. My favorite color is mint green.
  10. I love Dr. Pepper.
  11. I sometimes make faces in my mirror and legitimately scare myself.
  12. I once had a competition with my friends to see who could jump their horse bareback and backwards the most times without falling off, and won.
  13. I locked my three year old brother in his room for two hours and we had to knock the door down to get him out.
  14. Tomatoes and potatoes make me gag.
  15. I sometimes play tricks on Justin (move his shoes around, close doors he opened, hide the remote and then mysteriously have it show up in random places, etc.) just to watch his reaction because I have wayyy too much free time on my hands.
  16. I can literally only draw females because all my guys looks feminine, and no, not in a good way.
  17. I want to be a children’s book illustrator.
  18. I am writing a Sci-Fi novel about an alien who crashes and gets imprisoned on earth, after being framed for murder and treason on her home planet.
  19. I drive a red Jeep Cherokee named Bleu
  20. I want to one day have a summer home in Alaska.

The Wonderment That Is Nutella & Gelato

Everyone has that thing.

And by thing I mean personal heaven, the special treat, the pleasure splurge or even a happy place. I have a few, so I’m going to have to narrow it down to the favorite top two.

1. Nutella On Apples
and
2. Talenti Gelato

Nutella on apples is something I discovered during a spiteful rebellious fit. You see, my mother way trying to convince me that Nutella was awful. As in ‘Very-Unhealthy-It-Will-Go-Straight-To-Your-Thighs-And-Clog-Your-Veins’ awful. But at the time I was at the peak of my tenacious stage, so I was all out to prove her wrong.

My argument was that Nutella isn’t chocolate, it’s hazelnut. And for some reason I thought that this would automatically make it acceptable. If you don’t know what Nutella is, first of all, you need to get yourself to the nearest store and buy some. Some people call it fancy icing, though really it’s more like peanut butter. And yes, it tastes like straight up chocolate. But it’s delicious.

When I couldn’t convince my mom that the hazelnut spread I was spooning into my mouth was nutritious, I resorted to other means. It went very well with crackers and bread like a sandwich, but both of those things got really boring after a while. So then I started experimenting. Most of the things I put it on tasted absolutely nasty. (Don’t put it on celery. Just don’t.) So I was really only grasping at straws when I dipped an apple slice in.

It was heaven.

The apple has that almost sour, citrus taste which is good, and the Nutella has that sugary chocolate flavor, and together they are simply amazing. Honestly. I probably ate more apples than I had in my entire life in a week’s time. It’s just that freaking delicious. I highly recommend you try it. And just brace yourself for the weird looks. Plus, it looks so much more attractive than sitting with a large spoon grasped in one hand and chocolate coating your entire mouth.

My other favorite sugary snack is Talenti Gelato. Gelato is basically really, really, really fancy ice cream/frozen yogurt. I personally think it has more of a flavor punch than ice cream, and it’s thicker than yogurt or custard. There is a brand that is sold in stores called Talenti, and they have about 10 or so different flavors depending on where you get it at. Kroger usually has the biggest selection, though last night at Wal-Mart they had a big selection, too. WalMart used to only carry one or two flavors at a time, so they must be gaining popularity.

Justin and I’s favorite flavors are Sea Salt Caramel, Double Dark Chocolate, Caramel Cookie Crunch, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and German Chocolate Cake. Ali’s favorite is Raspberry Chocolate, which is also very good. My personal all time favorite is Southern Butter Pecan, because the pecan chunks are small enough that you don’t have to chew every bite, and the flavor is legendary. They also have a pistachio flavor, a mango flavor, vanilla and a couple of others, but I haven’t tried those yet. They are all good, so go buy one. Fair warning though, it is way too easy to eat the entire thing in one sitting. I know, because I have done it. Many times. Usually, Justin and I each get our own so that we don’t devour an entire thing in one time. Right now there is a Southern Butter Pecan and a Double Dark Chocolate sitting at home in the freezer.

Long story short, go to WalMart and get yourself some Nutella and a bunch of apples, and then a couple flavors of Talenti, watch Game of Thrones (**SPOILER** THE BRAT IS DEAD! YES!!) on On Demand, and then come back and thank me later. You’re welcome.

 

 

Letter to Me

Dear Sixteen (and beyond) Year Old Me,

Hey, what’s up? I know, I know, you’re moody. Mom and Dad have once again forbidden horse back riding due to those Below-85-Grades. You have once again skipped out on your after school tutoring because ‘your teacher wasn’t there’ or ‘they were too busy’. Do they believe you? Of course not. So now you’re sitting on the computer in the library at home taking remedial math courses online and playing that Warrior Cats RPG in secret (I STILL talk about how fun that was, by the way. And you are definitely going to use that creativity and story telling later.) Mom is still on that health kick, right? Be prepared for a lot of vegetables ‘secretly’ hidden in mystery meals and gagging.

Don’t worry, I am not here to steer you straight. Because honestly, I am still on your side. So what if you’re getting  only barely decent grades? Yes, that 72 isn’t an 85, but it’s in math. You are terrible at math. You worked your butt off and paid attention to get that 72. Remember when it was a 42? Yeah, hate to break it to you, but Dad still does.

You have that silly black choker that you haven’t taken off in years. (It’s going to make your neck obscenely huge in pictures.) And you are writing that fantasy trilogy with Sarah. You collect Breyer horse figurines, and you sell lost golf balls to golfers in your backyard. You read more than you breathe. You love Nutella. Your room is bright teal, and you still sleep with your closet light on because you swear you see shadows moving in the dark. You are convinced you will never have a love interest and that you will die alone on your ranch with a herd of horses and take out dinners every night, and you’re quite alright with that.

You are also upset about the Tennessee situation. Right now it’s April of 2010. More and more plans for moving are becoming rock solid, and suddenly this fantasy your parents had been dreaming about since they bought that Victorian fixer upper are becoming reality. It’s scary. All of your friends and life are in Texas. Your horse. The highest level of choir you have at school has let you in, and you love singing. You have a driver’s permit and you can’t wait until you can drive Sarah and Ashton to Firewheel Town Center and the movies by yourself. You don’t know a single soul in Tennessee except your family members, and your cousins don’t live in your future school district.

It’s going to be really hard. In fact, you are making plans as we speak to someday return to Texas and live at Horse Haven in a trailer home, riding Heather’s horses and maybe even teaching a few lessons yourself. But it’s hard to focus on that, I know. You have Hunni to think of. You have to find a place for her new home in Tennessee. She depends on you, and you are powerless to do anything to help ease her transition. You are terrified. You’ve never moved before. You’ve only ever known this red brick house with the gazebos and golf course in the backyard, the cicadas in the summer and the crippling cold in the winter.

Like it or not, in October you are going to leave home and end up in Knoxville. And you are going to handle it about as well as getting hit with a bag of bricks. First of all, you are going to be going to this weird school called an academy that has four different sub-academies, a super weird layout and only four classes a day, and early dismissal on Wednesdays. You are going to suddenly have the looming fear of certain classes, such as US Government and Economics, that you are required to take to graduate. (Oh, you might want to remind your school counselor about that when you get next year’s classes. Because she is going to forget and then blame it on you when she finally realizes how much she screwed up two years from now a month before graduation. Good luck with that.)

In November you will turn 17, and in December you are going to meet a boy. He will quickly turn into a boyfriend. He will take advantage of you and say it’s love. Your parents will ban you from seeing him, which will only make you want to see him more, and he will draw out the relationship until September, where he will promptly dump you and then string you along for ‘benefits’ between his girlfriends, and then have the nerve to say he still loves you and that he wants to get back together soon. Again and again. You are going to get your heart-broken, shredded, mauled, pulverized and then spit on by this boy. Don’t trust him. In fact, how about you wait in the cafeteria after school, instead of waiting on the sidewalk for your mom to pick you up? Just don’t go outside. Don’t go outside and start idle chatter with him. Please, I still have issues about that mess. Do us both a favor.

Even though, really, it will turn out okay. Because when you move to Tennessee in October, you are going to meet this chick called Ali. At first she is only going to be a lunch mate that will spare you the loneliness of eating in a bathroom stall by yourself (which you’ve been doing for what, a month now?) But soon you’ll be hanging out with her. Getting more involved in theater because of her. In fact, you will become the Prop Master and you are going to get tons of theater friends. She will be your lifeline and only motivation to get through the rest of high school thanks to the heart breaker you are infatuated with. She is going to be your best friend.

Plus, on graduation day she is going to help you officially get over that loser. Whats better than being best friends? Being your best friend’s brother’s girlfriend, that’s what. If you two thought that college would be the graveyard of your friendship, think again. You are going to get closer than ever, and you are going to meet someone you can envision the rest of your life with.  So when the funny girl with glasses and long brown hair offers to sit with you at lunch, accept it with enthusiasm. Trust me.

And you know, I guess you should go outside and wait on the curb and chit-chat with that boy. Because he is going to teach you a lot of lessons, and one day you are going to be grateful that you have knowledge and understanding and perspective. It is going to be great at first and you aren’t going to remember my warning, but that’s okay. You will think you are in love. And he will destroy you. You’re going to be sadder than you’ve ever been, but you are also going to emerge stronger. You were able to survive that. And now you are so much happier and better off, I promise.

Oh, and you are going to keep fighting with Mom and Dad. Again and again and again. But ultimately you still love them, and you know they just want you to be safe and happy. So maybe try going to a few of those tutorials. And quit picking on your brother and take time to hang out with your sister. She will think you are an absolute queen.

I have to go now, I’m at work you see. Yes, you get a real job. As in a desk job staring at a computer and answering the phone all day. Yeah, it’s kinda boring, but it’s better than what a lot of people have. You are going to get your very own Jeep. You’re going to live in a yellow house with your to-be boyfriend, Justin, and have two puppies. You are going to eat meat after a lifetime of vegetarianism. You are going to drop out of college. You will stop riding horses, but ultimately it’s better for Hunni if she never comes here. She is happier at home in Texas. Your life is going to be so much better and so different. Just hang in there. I’ll see you in the mirror, okay?

Love, Yourself

The Observations Of A College Drop Out

An out of body experience is ‘an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside one’s body and, in some cases, perceiving one’s physical body from a place outside one’s body’. I had one of those on Saturday. Kinda.

I went to visit my best friend Ali, along with her brother/my boyfriend Justin, their mother Jackie and other sister Olivia. We all piled into the car and made the two hour drive to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. It was a beautiful day. As in, the sky was bright blue with fluffy white clouds and the redbuds and dogwoods were blooming and every single farm we passed looked like a picture in a calendar.

When we finally arrived at ETSU, I stared. And kept staring for the next few hours. Because even though I had personally dropped Ali off in this very spot her freshman year, it was still strange and foreign to me. We met Ali at the front of her dorm building, and then got the grand tour of her room. It’s cozy and clean (her half, at least), and so…normal. Then, we decided to take the much larger tour of the campus, and I started having feelings of floating and watching myself wander around in a stupor.

ETSU is a beautiful campus. With old buildings and huge trees everywhere, it could have fit in just fine with all those farms in their calendars. There were squirrels and birds everywhere, frolicking among the greenery, and cute little art projects scattered around, like a little group of houses built entirely of twisted vines. People were everywhere, and Ali was regaling us with her awesome stories and explanations about her different spots on campus. It was all very, very cool. But I started feeling weird just the same.

Unlike Ali, I didn’t go to college. (Okay, technically I went to exactly one semester.) I just never saw the charm of it. Growing up, the idea of planning and decision making and credits made me nauseous, so I always avoided it. I just couldn’t find it within myself to see it as anything but an abyss that I would never get out of. I mean, spending at least four years in an institution studying something you might not even like to get a job that you’ll hate in order to pay your outrageous student debts until you are a parent yourself and paying your child’s college fees as well? Really?

I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t care. Majors and minors and professors and dorms and credits and all of that. I did not care a single bit about any of it. And as far as I can remember, I never have. I didn’t want to be there. I was only there because I had to be. And that semester was only proof of all my worryings. I hated it. I skipped out of classes or conveniently forgot to set my alarm or got horribly sick (cough). The pressure to make choices and life altering decisions was too much. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I was literally becoming a skeleton. I was so terribly unhappy. And when final exams rolled around, I came to the realization that I simply would not survive another semester. If my body somehow made it through, my mind would definitely not.

So when my time slot arrived to sign up for new classes… I walked right past the office. I took my very last exam (History, maybe?) and got into my car. I drove away and out through the front gates, and I promised myself I would not step back onto that campus. And I didn’t, and still haven’t.

It was hell, of course. Both of my parents had gone to college and both of them proceeded to try every means necessary to get me to go back. Yelling, fighting, threatening, guilt tripping. I heard all of it and then some, and then even members that were not a part of my immediate family started to give their opinions. When they realized I wasn’t going to go to college, they tried the trade school approach. When that didn’t make it off the ground, they decided they would leave me alone and let me be college free- but at a price. And since my parents and I were beginning to fight more and more, and I was almost never home anyway, and my meager job at Shoe Carnival couldn’t pay their fee even if I worked 24/7…I decided that it was time to get out. So I left home and moved in with Justin. (But that’s another story.)

Anyway, back to visiting Ali. It was SO much fun. Ali is my best friend and she can always make me laugh, and she is always there for me. Always. We are joined at the hip, and we have done everything from sharing a double scoop of ice cream on a single ice cream cone to inventing new words such as YIMES. And while she has been at college, it’s been a little hard. It’s weird only seeing her face in pictures and snapchat stories. But she is happy and I am happy for her, so when we see each other in person it’s a blast.

But walking around ETSU itself was strange, even with Ali. There were people my age everywhere. Wandering around, sitting under trees, hanging out in groups. They were all around my age, but for some reason I didn’t feel like I was one of them. I felt like I was observing animals in a zoo. I am the youngest person in my office by at least 20 years. Justin is the only person I see outside of work, other than my family, and even he is a few years older. So being there, walking around and seeing all these teenagers and young adults just hanging out and acting so normal and like this was all typically untypical, was super weird. I felt old.

Not physically, because I am only 20. I was actually probably younger than a lot of the kids that I saw. But mentally, I felt ancient. All of them were in college in tiny dorms in giant buildings with thousands of other students, with (maybe) a job that pays what? $15,000 a year? I make almost twice that.

While they have tiny dorms to live in, I have a house. I have a significant other that may as well be a husband. I have a 9-5 job that many adults would kill for. I pay bills. I have two dogs that I love more than most parents love their own children. I have a car, fully paid for. I have all of this with one semester of college. And there they were, sitting under a tree on their smartphones and frisbees and hammocks while they studied for their next test. And I got jealous.

I don’t really know why, because I probably have a life any of them would have died for. But in other ways, I have a life that most people would label as boring or even difficult. But it’s beautiful, too, however, so don’t get me wrong. I have a yellow house with a white picket fence, but I also have a tendency to let messes grow until I trip and fall just walking around my room. I have a yard with flowers and trees and grass that grows in wild, jungle like patches. I have two puppies that want nothing more than to play and track mud and fur everywhere. I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day handling contracts and answering phones and making a lot of money. Then I go home and sit in yoga pants and over sized t shirts on my bed with a plate of dinner that sat in the oven for 10 minutes, while Justin and I decide what TV show to watch. And then I am asleep by midnight with two dogs hogging over half the bed, and a cold wet nose stuck in my ear five minutes before my alarm goes off at 7:30 am, and then the whole day starts over again.

I am not ungrateful. I am just contemplative. I have all of these things, these ups and downs and black and whites and grays, and those college kids were living a life that I was expected to have, but skipped out of. I don’t have to worry about majors, minors, credits, professors, tests, tuition fees, or even my roommate. But I could have. I could be with Ali right now, or meeting her at the local college eatery or sitting in a dorm studying my head off before my next test while my roommate blares the TV so loud the walls shake. And it just floors me sometimes.

Now, before any of you pre-college children out there decide, ‘Hey, Stephanie made it without college! Why can’t I?’, you need to stop. Because my choice and the circumstances that I live with are highly theoretical and not a guarantee. When I made that decision to quit college, I didn’t know for sure if it was the right choice. It was a complete blind leap into fate. I couldn’t make long term decisions and see the outcome. It could have turned out very differently. I could have been kicked out of the house and forced to work two jobs and live in a moldy spare room that I rent for $WayTooMuchAMonth. I could have given up the college drop out life and gone back to college. I could have done a million things. However, I was lucky. I had my awesome boyfriend and his connections to help me find a job that could support me, as well as the puppies and the house and our relationship. I had parents that luckily valued me a little more than a college graduation paper. Not everyone is like me. If you quit, you have to be prepared to stick with it and deal with the consequences. There is no redo button in the real world. You can’t run crying home when you fall. There are natural disasters and weather and sick days and leaks and bills piling up and stress and bosses and coworkers and wondering if you’ll make it to your next paycheck before the water gets shut off. It’s not all fun and games.

Would I change my decision if I could? I don’t really know, honestly. Some days it feels like I am just one of the millions of millions of people out there who sit on their butts in front of a computer for 8 hours and then goes home and goes to sleep. Other days it feels like I can do anything because if I survived so far, what is to say I can’t continue and get better and better? And yes, I do get jealous of college kids. But you know what? They’re not me. And heck, maybe they are jealous of me, too. It’s just life. You win some, you lose some. All you can really do is take a deep breath and take that first step, and then have the courage to do it again.

Sweet As Hunni

Growing up, I owned at least 20 three inch thick books on horses, and spent hours upon hours absorbing everything I could about them. They were beautiful, graceful, wild creatures that you could ride and run and fly away on, and for a young girl, that was everything I could ever want. My first horseback riding lessons began on November 10, 2008 as a birthday present.

I am sure my parents thought it was just a phase, so when they set me up for lessons they must have been expecting me to tire of it after a year or so. Quite the opposite happened.

November 10 was a rather dismal day. The sky was cloudy, threatening to pour down rain at any moment, and the ground was a thick, oozing sea of mud. But I was ecstatic.

That first day was mainly spent in the barn, where my instructor, Heather, showed me how to tie a horse, how to properly groom them, and how to saddle them up. In the future this would all become a remedial, thoughtless task, but that first day she may as well have been showing me the road to El Dorado. I couldn’t get enough. By the time I had successfully accomplished the tasks to her liking, my lesson was almost up and thunder was rumbling in the sky above us. Bob, the fat grey horse that had patiently stood while I fumbled with the saddle ties and hoof picks, was dozing off, and I was resigned to the fact that I would have to wait a whole week to ride again. Until Heather emerged from the tack room, helmet in hand, and plopped it down on my head.

That first ride was otherworldly. It lasted all of five minutes, Heather was leading me around kiddie-style with a halter up and down the gravel driveway, and Bob was moving at a pace so slow that wet paint could dry faster. But it is something that will stay with me until my dying breath.

Months passed and my lessons advanced, and soon I was competing and winning ribbons. With the ever faithful Bob, my confidence grew and I began to think of myself as quite the rider. Looking back I can only laugh at myself. Bob was the perfect beginner’s horse. He was slow, fat, gentle, and too sweet. He would rather go take a nap than cause trouble. Any beginner would feel like a master riding him, because he was simply too lazy to ever do anything but what you wanted. And he was the only horse I had ever ridden, so it obviously went to my head.

Until another new girl came to the barn and needed Bob’s gentle touch. And suddenly, I got thrown headfirst into the big leagues.

Heather always told me that even despite Bob’s easiness, I was a good rider. I had a natural seat and a stubborn drive. So when she set me up with Hunni, I can only imagine she knew what she was doing.

Hunni was sort’ve a mystery. Her mother, Emma, was nothing more than evil personified. She was troublesome whether you were on or off her, and had a stubborn ferocity that would make Chuck Norris quiver in fear. Her one goal in life was to make sure you knew that she could pommel you into a pulp within seconds. And Hunni was her one and only offspring. A complete wild card.

From what I had gathered from other riders, Hunni was a much more toned down version of Emma. She didn’t approach you with a fight from head on. She waited. She was just as stubborn and just as deadly clever, but she liked to bide her time and test you first. She was a loose cannon, who only gave you respect when she decided you earned it. But I was young and foolish and I thought I was the best rider this side of Dallas… I was doomed.

On the day that I was to begin riding with Hunni,  Heather had gone out to get her from the pasture because I was running late. When I entered the barn, Hunni was already tied up and was dozing off, ignoring the world. Until I bounced up to her, clutching a saddle.

The stocky mare woke up, and eyed me for a second, taking in the saddle in my thin arms and that eager light in my eyes. She stood up straight, narrowed her big brown eyes and gave me a look that clearly stated how absolutely unimpressed she was with me and my pathetic existence. I think I gulped.

Throughout the tacking up process she was quiet and still, watching me move around her until I fell into a blissful ease, deciding that this mare wasn’t scary at all. She lifted her hooves when I asked, and didn’t twitch a muscle as I ran the brush over her coat. It was like I was nothing more than a bird twittering around her as I secured the saddle and bridle. Once everything was properly set, I grabbed the reins and began to lead her out of the barn with the other riders…

But she didn’t budge.

“Come on, let’s go, lazy butt!” I said, tugging a little on the reins to get her moving. She simply stood, head held high, looking down on me with  a ‘Go Ahead And Make Me’ look on her face.

I struggled for a few seconds, yanking on her bridle and even poking her tummy to get her to lift her feet. She leaned back, resting on one back leg and flicking her ears, turning her head to look down the barn and out the window. I may as well have not been there.

Heather finally came back and asked me what on earth I was doing, and only laughed when I explained rather angrily that Hunni wasn’t moving. Heather took my place, and Hunni pranced forward, flicking her tail and acting like her one goal in life was to parade after the rest of my lesson group. I was speechless.

After scrambling onto her back and catching up with the rest of them, we all entered the lesson arena. Hunni plodded along, as quiet and easy as ever. We all walked in a circle, stretching out our horses legs and warming up before the real lesson began. Finally, Heather instructed us to do a nice, slow dog trot for a couple minutes. In the past, Bob had had the slowest trot (at times it was slower than his walk), so I was fully unprepared when Hunni took off like she had been stung by a bee.

I bounced in my seat and could scarcely keep my feet in the stirrups. I remember that those three minutes were the most nerve wracking of my entire life, as Hunni thundered around the arena, jackknifing me up and down in the saddle until I was sure my dinner would  make a reappearance. Mercifully, Heather had us slow back down to a walk and I slumped in my seat, holding my sides together and scowling down at the devil mare beneath me. She snorted and I swear I saw a smirk.

Next came the simple task of walking over ground poles. (It’s literally as easy as it sounds.)  One by one we each took turns walking our horses over the three inch thick poles. The object of the lesson was to try and lengthen our horses strides so they wouldn’t clip them with their hooves. Finally, it was my turn, and I eagerly forced Hunni into position and prepared to make her do as I asked (for once).

Hunni sidled up to the first pole and stepped over as easy as you please. I should have known something was wrong the moment I felt her hesitate and stiffen up right before the second, but as I said before, I was a complete idiot back then.

The horse seemed to turn into a helicopter and leaped straight up into the air, flying over the second pole and then bounding with similar height over the last pole, stopping on a dime as soon as she cleared it. I landed hard in the seat, all air knocked out of me as I floundered like a fish to get back into the stirrups and gulp down air. My friends were all snickering and Hunni was eyeing me out of the corner of her eyes with that same bemused smirk.

The rest of the lesson went about as smoothly as sandpaper. Hunni had this cute habit of stopping and not budging, and then ‘tripping’ so I would lurch forward and end up somewhere on her neck. When we all lined up to canter around the arena one at a time, Hunni pulled this rather ingenious trick of biting down on the bit and taking off while I could only hold on for dear life. By the time the lesson was over, I could not get away from that horse fast enough. As I unsaddled her and led her to her stall, I was muttering all sorts of threats and curses under my breath, hoping the new girl would back out of lessons so I could have a sensible horse like Bob back and not this devilish calamity called Hunni.

As I checked her water and hay and moved around her stall, Hunni watched me with an unreadable face, eyes narrowed and ears twitching, as if she couldn’t decide whether to bite me or stomp on me. I locked the door shut behind me, and turned to leave. As I walked away, I heard a loud, braying neigh come from her stall, and glanced back to see her head sticking out, watching my retreat.

Like I said, I was doomed.

Jiu Jitsu, Food, Horses & Ghosts

In my house, (and life) every time something happens outside of Justin and I’s routine, it is cause for great excitement. Weekends usually end up being long TV marathons, interrupted by chunks of sleep and maybe a trip to the store or mall where we spend about two hours extra walking around in circles because we are avoiding going home and sitting on the bed all day (though neither of us would ever admit this out loud).

Yesterday’s routine was broken by a text from Justin’s mother, Jackie, about my best friend’s Jiu-Jitsu competition. Ali (the best friend), is very pretty, very smart, and can kick some serious butt.  Unfortunately, due to a certain someone’s stubborn planning skills (**cough cough cough** Justin), we didn’t get there until after her match. But, she did win a pretty awesome silver medal! Standing in that room filled to the brim with people who could seriously knock my skull inwards was rather intimidating, and I am happy to report that I  managed to not piss off a single one of them! Well, except for that guy’s kid I knocked over….sorry about that. I guess that’s what happens when you let your child wander around and cut people off. Oops.

After the competition started to wind down, we all went to a little restaurant in Fountain City called Litton’s. We had 14 people in our entourage, so the wait was considerably long since no one thought to call ahead. The food, however, was worth it.

Litton’s is a little burger joint that has been in Fountain City since 1946, and was originally a small market, but has since become a great little food joint as well. The atmosphere is a little dim and claustrophobic, but it really only makes you feel more cozy and comfortable, like one of those old diners where everybody knew everybody else. Their burgers are amazing, but the real specialty of Litton’s is their desserts. Cake, cake, and more cake, all made right there at Litton’s along with the most delicious cookies and pies you will ever have. For me personally, a slab of their Red Velvet cake is a hunk of heaven.

Finally, we were all shoved into this special ‘large party’ space and could order. Originally I was going to sit by Ali, until a small boy with glasses informed me that he was going to sit there, so I promptly moved over a seat or two extra to give him ample room. (I’m not a kid person, is this obvious yet?) His father sat by me and Justin sat on my right. We all ordered drinks and our burgers (I went with the grilled chicken breast because I was feeling more white meat inclined. Though their red meat is also very, very good.) and proceeded to become one of the loudest bunches of people in Litton’s history, I am sure.

Some of the conversations that flew around the table were about panties, children, horses, crossfit, hockey, the paleo diet, and many others. I mostly stayed quiet and listened, which is what I do best. Ask anyone. Or don’t. I’m so quiet, I tend to go unnoticed, so they probably wouldn’t have much to say. Justin talked around me to the bespectacled kid’s father about hockey, and I sometimes leaned around him to talk about horseback riding with Jackie. Jackie knows everything and everyone around here, and I thought that if anyone knew of a good riding place, she would .I have researched barns and stables and lessons ever since I moved here a few years ago and I have been dying to ride again. But everything seems to formal and…what’s the word, uptight? that I would feel like a time slot, not a student. 

Jackie suggested a stable called Blue Point that she  had heard good things about. Their camps and year-round lessons are very good, and they even have a competitive drive. It has been the first time that I have been getting a good feeling about a barn.  I researched their website while I was listening to the table discuss autocorrect text failures. And you know, I might actually give them a call. Though if I  could find even an extra horse that someone owned that I could take out and exercise for them, I would be totally happy. Returning to the competitive side of horseback riding might also be exciting, too. I have ridden both english and western, and I enjoy speed events just as much as jumping or even just judged classes. So maybe I will give Blue Point a call. It has been way too long since I have ridden last. If anyone out there knows of a good riding place in Knoxville, please let me know.

After we chowed down on food and bought a round of brownie cookies and pies, we all parted ways. Justin so sweetly bought me a slab of Red Velvet, and I have been nibbling on it ever since we got home last night. After we played in the backyard with the dogs for about an hour, we headed inside. Justin took a nap and I watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones (the new season is almost here!!), we flipped to the Travel Channel and watched one of our favorite shows: Ghost Adventures.

Ghost Adventures is about a small team of investigators and their equipment techs who travel around the world in search of haunted locations to document and research. I personally think it is one of the best paranormal television shows out there. I am sorry, but Ghost Hunters kinda dropped the ball with their ‘fake’ evidence. Way to go. Now, GA can be….dramatic. Zak is a bit of a hot head and tends to be easily excitable, I will give you that. But they thoroughly investigate, ask outside opinions and try to debunk everything, so you really cannot argue with the experiences that they have. They have professional scientists, researchers, and people of good report to back up their claims, and the evidence that they collect is really incredible. If you don’t believe in the paranormal, I highly recommend you watch their show and try to argue with the logic that they present. (And if you are still a non-believer, that’s cool. It’s still an entertaining show.)

Last night’s episode was in a Heritage Junction in Santa Clarita, California. It has been one of their more interesting episodes, in my opinion. The current season recently started, and so far the previous episodes have not been as exciting as their previous seasons. This episode, however, was starting to get back into their old swing of things. They collected a lot of evidence such as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and other solid pieces of evidence. After their new episode ended, they played an old re-run of a previous episode that is one of their classics. Season 7, Episode 18, in the King’s Tavern. It is one of their spookiest episodes ever, in my opinion. With plenty of partial possessions and creepy orbs and EVPS, Justin and I were very excited to watch it. It’s been one that we have been wanting to rewatch for a long time. 

After that, Justin went upstairs to play his computer game and I stayed downstairs and watched Game of Thrones. (Trying to immediately fall asleep alone in the dark is not easily done after a ghost show.) I fell asleep around 1 am, and now here I am.

Tonight we are going to see God’s Not Dead in Oak Ridge with Justin’s friend/boss Eric’s church group, and I am thoroughly excited about it. Growing up Mormon, I am always fascinated by other people’s interpretations of religion. I will write about that later tonight, but for now I will leave you all alone and end my chattering. Time to go exercise! Or make myself cry tears of blood. Or both. 

 

Label Makers are Silly Anyways

The Great and Whimsical Me

I am a female. I have two X chromosomes. I have wider hips and more pronounced breasts. I am more than just a female, I am a young woman. However, I am not a dainty and fragile young lady who falls prey to the men of the world. I have been blessed with strong opinions and opulent determinism. My heart is full of passion and drive, which often gets me into trouble. My personality is.. large. My actions are often perceived as abnormal or eccentric. My outward appearance is not that of societies typical girly girl. I lift weights, I have a broad frame, I train in Brazilian jiu jitsu. I am stronger than most girls I know, and I even bench more than some guys at the gym. That is okay. Outwardly, I do not appear fragile. I am very much a “tough guy”. That is acceptable.. to a…

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