Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Raising A Glass

I'm working on a year-end post -- hopefully it will be full of contemplative and revelatory statements, or at least a good helping of snarky, but until then I have wrapping to do and Christmas bark to eat. Please enjoy my favorite picture of our beautiful boys in the meantime, and join me as I raise a glass to toast bloggers everywhere.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Last week, not only did the stars literally align (OK they were planets, but that doesn't sound as good), something else happened that's been 25 years in the making: my husband, his father and his son were all together.

The last time D's father saw his grandson he was under 2 years old, he's 26 now. I won't post their picture because I want to respect their privacy, but believe me when I tell you they all look remarkably alike. It must be strange and wonderful to be able to see what you are going to look like at 50 and at 90 just by glancing across the dinner table. Even though D's father is energetic and is still driving and travelling, his is 88, so it was important that we make this meeting happen and that it be documented in pictures. Of course, me being me, I got a little emotional about the gravity of the moment, but nobody else seemed to be affected by it. D's son seemed a little nervous, but you can't fault him for that, I certainly would be!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Walk, trot, canter. The three basic gaits. Seems simple enough. Just walk, trot, canter, no big deal.

I had gotten to the point where I was very comfortable cantering on the lesson horses and I loved it. My body moving in sync with the horse, the rush of speed, giving the horse her head and letting the reins steer only. When I started riding Miss exclusively I had to take a giant step backwards and really learn how to trot again. Apparently I was right in my assertion that riding the lesson horses was not teaching me how to ride Miss, as it took some time for us to trust each other and learn each other's cues and idiosyncracies. Lately, despite living in a fog of depression I've been feeling like it was time to take a step forward in the arena, so last weekend I asked my trainer if we could put Miss back on the lunge line at the end of my lesson (when she was tired) so I could canter a few steps. As I suspected, she was a little hesitant, as she had not cantered on Miss for several weeks, but I insisted that she was in a good space and I felt confident enough to at least try. Miss was confused, to say the least: why are we putting the lunge line back on? This is weird. Are you SURE you want me to canter? But after a little prompting she took one giant step and we moved into it. She picked up the correct lead, which she does 98% of the time, but more than that, I could tell she was on the right lead. We only went maybe 4 or 5 strides, but she covered more than one circle with that, she has a huge stride and loves to go fast. She slowed to a walk instantly at my whispered command and we praised her lavishly. Then we did it again the other direction and I was more prepared for the transition this time and felt pretty comfortable. Even though all told it was less than 30 seconds, it was a breakthrough. Both me and my trainer were very proud of both of us. I really needed this. Hopefully we'll do it again today at the end of my lesson. After a year and a half of riding her, we reach the mythical triad.

My trainer didn't really let on when I took her what a difficult horse she is to ride, for anyone, never mind a total beginner. That's probably a good thing, my ignorance allowed me to have more confidence than I would have otherwise. I see other people riding their horses and think, wow, that looks a lot easier than riding Miss, but also, a lot less fun. At the canter she is elegant and high-headed and beautiful. I'm just along for the ride.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All the King's Horses

Most of the time I feel like Humpty Dumpty, so broken that I can't be put back together again, but the horses don't notice the cracks and wouldn't care about them if they did. Here are some of the coats of many colors of some of my friends.








Me and Missy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Fog

I've fallen and I can't get up. I just can't shake this depression. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm pretty much constantly in pain from the endometriosis. Sitting for long periods of time exacerbates things, and of course I am either sitting in front of a computer or driving, all day every day. I used to look forward to riding, but now I think, what is the point, either I will be in pain while I am riding or, if not, then I will pay for it double later when it really kicks in.

I also hate this time of year. Starting with Halloween, heading right through Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of it just reminds me that I don't have a family of my own, I am far from my nuclear family and even if I wasn't, I wouldn't want to be with them anyway.

At least I can drink and take pretty much any medication out there, since, as all the commercials say, I'm not "pregnant, nursing or plan to become pregnant". Silver linings, people.

Also, just a quick note of clarification, that little filly Devious lives where my Missy lives, but she doesn't belong to me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rules of Engagement

During the two years after our wedding in which my husband and I discussed whether or not we were going to even try to have a baby, the rules of engagement were laid out. They were, for the most part, his rules, and I had no choice but to agree to them. Even with my agreement, I had no guarantee that he would ever be ready to do something I had taken for granted was part of our future.

The two rules not open for discussion were: no adoption and no heroic efforts. We both have our own personal history with adoption, mine oblique and positive, his personal and devastating. While I did want to have our child, I would not have been against the idea of adoption had he been willing. Since he was not, it was not on the table, and that was all there was to it. No heroic efforts meant no IVF. Period. Partly that was because of the cost and partly it was the line that we drew in the sand for how far we would go, and we were in agreement on this point. At the time I was blissfully ignorant of what was to transpire in the next three years, I had every intention of getting pregnant without medical intervention. After all, I was relatively young (I thought) at 38, and I had received an enthusiastic thumbs up from my doctor.

The fact that we were unsuccessful in having our own child and the fact that his son is now a part of our lives doesn't put adoption back on the table. There are times when I resent the fact that he does have a son, and a grandson; his legacy is guaranteed not only into the next generation, but indeed the one after that as well, so I cannot expect that he will understand how I feel.

I am not equating the idea of having a child with life-long happiness or even having someone to take care of me when I get old. My own mother is a prime example of how this is often not the case. Of her four children, one is dead, one has completely cut her out of his life, one has settled into a superficial and artificial truce and one tries valiantly to stay in contact without losing her sanity. She is in increasingly poor health, bitter and alone, and she will die that way.

My father started a second family after he divorced my mother and now, at 75, is saddled with a depressed and beligerent teenager who refuses to go to school, get his driver's license or do anything except play video games and entertain friends in his room.

I know that I look at having a family in a way that is both existential and hypothetical, and that isn't the day-to-day reality of the hard work, heartbreak and frustration of being a parent. With the bad comes a lot of good though, and I will miss out on a lot, I already have. We always want what we don't have, that's part of the human condition. I know that I will always be working on this, it isn't something you get over, but I hope at some point it won't hurt as much.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hourglass Figures

Last week I finally saw a new doctor for my annual exam. She was young and friendly and casual, answering "OK, cool" to almost every question. She listened to what I had to say and agreed to let me try the drugs I had done research on. We agreed that surgery didn't make sense at this point, since in most cases it doesn't do much for pain management, and encouraged me to keep her informed on how the drugs were working for me, and if I wasn't satisfied we would try something else. That was a nice surprise, a doctor who seemed to care about my well-being.

This was a regular OB/GYN office, and during my short stay in the waiting room a steady stream of women in various stages of pregnancy came and went. It has been a very long time since I've been around any pregnant women and I was not prepared for how this affected me. Every single one of them had that uncomfortable "can someone get this kid out of me" look about them, and I found myself thinking that I would change places with any of them in a heartbeat. Three years out from letting go of the dream of having a family, and the emotions are just as raw and close to the surface as ever, with the right catalyst.

The biological imperative to procreate is not so much a clock as an hourglass. Once you make that decision to (try to) become pregnant and turn it over, the hourglass becomes invisible, you know the sand is falling to the bottom and eventually you will run out of time, you just don't know how long you have or even when all the sand is gone and you are just spinning your wheels.

Looking at all those women made me feel like my entire reproductive system, a large part of my body, including my breasts, was never going to be used for its intended purpose. I felt like an expensive porcelain figurine: beautiful, coveted, admired, but by definition, useless.

I know that makes it sound like I don't like my body, but that's not true. My body looks better today than it ever has, I am toned and lean and strong. But my body will never stretch and grow and create sustenance like women before me have for millenia. I am what is known in genealogical terms as a "stub", a branch of the family tree that will never go any further. The women who don't have children are sometimes referred to as having "no issue". Ironic.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what my legacy will be, without children. What is my purpose in this life?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Same Time Next Year

Every year at the end of September and the beginning of October, two things happen.

The acorns fall from the sky in hailstorms and I fall into a depression. This year I had a lot of other things on my plate to bring this on, but layered on top of the current issues is the fact that sometime in the last three weeks would have been my due date had I not terminated a pregnancy in 1985. They say time heals all wounds, but apparently for me that isn't true, because twenty-three years later I still go into mourning every year. It always takes me a while to figure it out, but when I do I start to feel the grief lift, ever so slightly. This makes the three years that I've been trying to get over not being able to conceive a small raindrop in a huge bucket. I suppose there will always be times when it feels like my heart is breaking when I see a child and wonder...what if.

I am starting to see through the storm clouds, if only for small periods of time. I am still very sad and lonely and missing my friends, I am still angry and resentful that my riding is being affected by my messed up reproductive system and I am still coming to grips with and resigning myself to the reality of my home life. But sometimes I think that maybe everything will be OK.

This little previously unnamed filly finally has a name: Devious. That doesn't really work, does it? I call her Diva, she doesn't seem like much of a diva yet either but I just can't call her devious.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Songs In the Key of Life

Another thing I didn't mention is that I cannot listen to music right now. At least, not music I am familiar with, meaning anything on my iPod or iTunes. This is because every song reminds of something or someone and more often than not, makes me cry. I don't need another reason to cry right now.

Every time the phone rings my gut wrenches in a knot and I wonder what terrible news I will hear upon picking up the receiver. I'm waiting for another shoe to drop. How many shoes do I have? What am I, a centipede?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

Molly cautioned me to watch my nutrition and take care of my body. One of the things I didn't mention was the fact that I've lost quite a lot of weight in the past couple of months. So much that very few of my clothes fit me anymore and I had to buy some new pants and skirts. I started with the size I usually wear, then had to step down a size and then another, to find things that I could wear right now. To add to the irony, I gave away all my skinny clothes because I thought there was no way I would get this skinny again, after infertility treatments and sliding headlong into perimenopause. Eating is something that doesn't cross my mind often, and sometimes when I do eat I feel like it wasn't worth it because I feel like crap after. Like everything else, I have to start slow and build back up to what's normal.

Cricket said a lot of nice things (as did everyone who took the time to comment), but I have to say that right now I don't have the time, the money or the will to go back into therapy. I've already spent years talking to professionals -- 6? 7? I've lost track -- and still I ended up here, even with the happy blue pills. I realize that the hallmark of someone who needs help is someone who refuses it, I understand that I am depressed and that my self-deprecating thoughts are counter-productive. I have to trust that I will know if and when it makes sense for me to go back to therapy, as I have before, and right now that doesn't feel right.

Julianna, my dear friend, thank you for letting me know you are still out there. People often tell me that I am strong, I have to be, otherwise how could I still be a functioning member of society after all the things that have happened to me. I am a survivor. While that may be true, I have survived, as I said in my last post, when I get depressed and defeated like I am now, instead of tapping into the strength that enabled me to get here, I feel the weight of my past like the earth on Atlas' shoulders and I stagger under it. This too shall pass.

GP in Montana told me that I should keep praying. I don't pray, because I don't believe in God or any higher power. There, I've said it out loud, written it down, and its posted on the internet for all to see: I am an atheist. I've often thought that the only way my childhood could have been more confusing or messed up was if my family had thrown religion into the mix. I know people who garner great comfort and joy from their faith and I don't have a problem with anyone praying to whatever or whomever they choose, its just not something that is a part of me. I don't believe that there is anybody out there looking out for me, taking care of me, or who loves me unconditionally, those are earthly pursuits in my world. I do believe that riding helps me a great deal and does keep me out of my head. Missy has taught me a lot of lessons in the last two years and I can only hope that my presence in her life has made it better. She needed a person and apparently, I needed a horse.

DinoD, thank you for reminding me again that this is a transitory state, and one that I have weathered before. Every day is different, some days I feel like I am making progress, and others, not so much. I wish I could keep moving forward instead of moving forward only to slip and fall backwards again, but that has always been the way that I eventually get through rough times.

Ollie and Kym, my longtime friends, thank you for being there. Writing does help me to sort out my thoughts, putting jumbled thoughts into words, then into a structure called a sentence, then a paragraph, creates order that no other endeavor does. In order to make it make sense to others, I have to create some order inside myself.

I know you would all rather be reading about and looking at pictures of horses, and I do have some new information and images to share on that front, but for now this is what I need to write about.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Alone In A Crowd

Left to my own devices I stay inside my head, and that is not a very friendly place for me to be. The dominant voice in there is extremely negative, I dare say she hates me; she bullies the other voice that tries to get a word in edge-wise when things get out of hand. There is the me that the outside world sees, the pretty, totally-put-together, smart and capable woman who looks 10 years younger than her real age...and then there is the real me, the girl who is profoundly sad and lonely, who cries a lot and at worst believes she should be punished for being so wicked and at best believes she deserves nothing. I'm scared. Scared every day that people will find out what a fraud I am.

With all due respect to Barbra, I am a person who needs people and I don't feel the least bit lucky. I've lost some very important satelites this year and without their signals I am feeling quite lost. I'm about to lose another from my time zone but I'm hopeful she'll still be able to broadcast from her new sector of the sky. According to a popular social networking site and my email contact list, I have well over 100 friends, yet I feel alone. I feel disconnected from almost everyone, and the one person I don't feel disconnected from is many hundreds of miles away in another country.

Even the shallow social constructs of the workplace are not available to me as a consultant. I am either working at home, alone, or I am sitting in a strange office for the day while I work at a client site. I have a couple of long-term clients that I visit regularly, at one I even have a designated cube that I have decorated with a few horse pictures, but I do not belong anywhere, I am not an employee and therefore are treated very differently than those around me.

Riding, in particular the type of riding I do, English and training to do show jumping, is for the most part a solitary endeavor. I admire and like the other riders at the farm, and I'm sure they admire and like me too, but we are not friends. We don't know anything about each other outside of what we see and discuss vis a vis our horses. Perhaps this is best, as I've already related, if they did know the real me they would probably shun me.

Since the beginning of the summer, in addition to the things I've already related, two people I knew died, I was evacuated from my home for 3 days because of a fire and my husband lost his job. In short, I'm a mess. I'm plagued by headaches, stomach issues and even had a panic attack recently. I tried to see my old doctor last week for the endometriosis but apparently I am not smart enough to navigate the health care system here, even though I've lived here for 20 years. She wasn't in my "group", so I have to start all over tomorrow, find a new doctor, make another appointment and probably wait another month. The good news is that now it only hurts when I ride. Small comfort.

I'm tempted to turn off the comments so the entire internet won't think I posted this as a pathetic means to gather support. Even more pathetic, I do need your support, even if you don't know me. More than that, I just needed to write this down. I can't just deal with one problem at a time, instead, when I am in crisis, I open up my Chest of Horrors and drag out lots of other things from my past, since they are all related. I pile them on top of my head until I topple over like the Flintstone's car when the bell-hop puts the plate of ribs on the window. I've never gotten over anything or anyone.

I will be OK. All I can do is keep repeating that until I believe it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Scar Tissue

My old nemesis, endometriosis, has reared its ugly head once again. I've been relatively pain-free since my last laparoscopy about five years ago, but severe stress can bring on a flare-up and I certainly have had my share of that in the past few months. The pain is in exactly the same two areas that it always has been, which helps to keep me from thinking this is something new that's gone wrong in the long history of my fight with my reproductive system. However, having said that, since my older sister (by 15 months) had a partial hysterectomy earlier this year due to some other issues, until I know for sure there are moments when I am able to convince myself that I am dying from ovarian or cervical cancer. I tend to do that to myself, I am a catastrophist when it comes to my own life. I take "what's the worst that could happen" and manage to twirl that into something even worse.

At least I still have my horse. Yes, my sweet Missy is doing very well, sound, healthy and willing, and we've formed a strong bond that helps me so much. But...most days I am in too much pain to ride. Those days when I can ride it isn't for as long as I'd like. It turns out that riding is possibly the worst possible thing I can do to exacerbate the endo pain. Let's see: open up the pelvic bones by straddling a large object, then repeatedly put pressure on the affected areas by sitting then rising then sitting then rising...you get the picture. I feel so pathetic walking my horse around the arena with tears streaming down my face.

Since I no longer need the services of an RE I am going back to my original OB who I haven't seen in many years. My appointment is on the 30th, I'm thinking we won't get very far that day and I'll come back for an ultrasound then we'll have to talk about whether I have surgery again. If you've got any extra goodwill to share, I could use some right now.

This is just the tip of the despair iceberg, but it is what I feel comfortable sharing with the world right now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Once again I find myself in a very, very dark place, but I am working on a post. Seems I can't go more than a few months without falling into a pit of despair. However, I know it is more detrimental to keep poison inside than to let it spill all over the ground.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Special Delivery

This little filly was a surprise last Saturday at the farm, at least two weeks early. You might notice that the foal looks nothing like the mare, that's because she's a surrogate. The biological mare kept losing babies (do they call it miscarrying in the horse world?), so the final time she was inseminated and the embryo was deemed viable, it was flushed from Judy and put into Pepe for the duration. The dam and sire of the filly are both full saddlebreds and Pepe is a quarter horse, but of course she doesn't know she isn't the "real" Mom and is being a wonderful mother. The night before the birth Pepe wasn't showing any signs so the next morning they put her and Judy in turnout like usual. About an hour later one of the workers noticed the baby safely nestled in the straw and alerted the owner. So Judy was the only one who got to witness the birth; I like to think of her as Pepe's equine midwife. The little one doesn't have a name yet, the owners can't agree on one since they were hoping for a colt (that'll teach them!), so for right now she's just Filly.

The other day I was getting Missy reading for her exercise on the lunge line, I had brought her down from her stall to the wash rack to put on the "boots" that protect her hooves and hocks. There is a big motorhome/horse trailer parked right there with an old beat up orange construction cone sitting behind it. She's standing quietly like she always does and I'm busy putting on her boots when I start to hear this sound sort of like a soft fog horn. Then again.

Missy was breathing into the top of the cone and making a sound like when you blow into a soda bottle! I was laughing so hard! She just kept doing it, maybe 5 or 6 times, she was enjoying it. She's such a talent, my girl.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mares Eat Oats

The reason I stopped blogging was because the issues that were consuming me were deeply personal and private and didn't involve just me. Sometimes this public forum just isn't appropriate, as much as writing things down and getting feedback helps. I was able to do that with several people IRL, but the issues continue and I'm far from feeling like any kind of resolution has been reached or that resolution is even possible.

Despite the limbo on one front, I feel compelled to share the trials and triumphs with my beloved Missy. My first ride on her was May 20, 2007, so we've just passed our one year in-saddle anniversary, and I've been riding her exclusively since January. I convinced my trainer that continuing to ride the lazy quarterhorse lesson horses was not a good primer for learning to ride my hot thoroughbred.

Last year we went through a spell where she threw her head around so much it was nearly impossible to ride her, and it turned out that she had to have some dental work done. She has an overbite and some other dental issues and after she healed from the work (including the removal of several wolf teeth) she was much better. A couple of months ago she started the same kind of attitude, only this time it seemed much worse, so after a few weeks of extreme frustration and disappointment my trainer decided we would try a hackamore, which is basically just a bridle without a bit. Within a half hour she was a different horse. It seems counter-intuitive to be riding a hot horse with a hackamore, which is usually considered to have less control that a bridle with a bit, but she doesn't have any bad behaviors, she just wants to go fast. She's learning to wait for my audio and leg cues before moving from one gait to another and usually is pretty good about slowing down and stopping when I ask her. Every time we start out she takes a few minutes to settle down and realize she doesn't need to fight a bit that isn't there, but we have made some amazing progress in the last month and a half.

So much so that my trainer is finally ready to let me ride her on my own! This is huge. Part of the deal I made when I took her was the farm would comp my lessons until I was ready to ride her on my own, so they have a monetary incentive, but my trainer is extremely cautious and would not be doing this unless she felt we were both ready. She is not the easiest horse to ride, I was starting from scratch and she was coming off of a 3 year haitus, so I suppose that in the grand scheme of things one year doesn't seem like such a long time, but to me it seemed like an eternity. Especially since I had to watch other riders, who in my opinion were not as skilled as I was, ride their own horses while I had to be supervised.

I look forward to writing more often and catching up with all my bloggy friends. I haven't been ignoring you as much as just needing a break from the whole blogosphere. I'd love to hear what you've all been up to.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Thank you to everyone who checked in on me and sent me good thoughts and wishes. I'm still in a place that is dark a lot of the time but I promise I will be back soon, at least with some pictures for you to look at while I figure out how to write again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Beautiful Mess

Still here; still struggling. I have a lot swirling around in my head but it's too fragmented to write down. I feel like my life is too big for me at the moment and I don't know how to make it smaller.

If you want to know where I am right now, take a look at this amazing post by "music is art".

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Perfect Storm

Sometimes the universe seems to conspire against me and many different elements come together at the same time to form what seems like an unsurmountable obstacle. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I've just crawled out of a pit of despair.

It started when a chronic medical issue raised it's very ugly head and stepped into the spotlight. Even though this is something I've been dealing with for a long time, it can still zap my energy, obliterate my fragile self-esteem and make me feel hopeless and bitter. You couple that with two solid weeks of bad weather, a couple of power outages, 10 to 12 hour days working with ungrateful clients, not being able to ride my horse and becoming isolated from my social circles (because of the bad weather and the heavy work schedule) and you end up with a very unhappy woman. I shudder to think where I would have been without my blue happy pills, probably in a fetal position in a cellar.

My sister is bi-polar, and I have witnessed a few of her manic phases. Although I suffer from both anxiety and depression, I don't have the euphoric highs of the manic depressive, instead my anxiety manifests itself in the form of panic. The meds do a good job of dampening those tendencies, but when I get into a depressive cycle it doesn't do nearly as good a job in keeping me from sliding downward.

Normally I feel the urge to write it all down when I feel depressed, but this was different...I felt so shitty about myself I didn't think anyone would care enough to read about it and even if they did, they would be so put off by the nasty bile I was spewing they wouldn't care to come back to read any more. All I could do was work my way out of it, every day giving less weight to the negative thoughts and trying to pay attention to what my body needed (sleep, food, etc.).

So, if you're reading this, thanks for checking in on me. I'm getting there.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

I really wanted to blog more this year and here we are, nearly two weeks since my last post. I'm partly blaming the weather. A series of storms hit the Bay Area last weekend and we were without power from 5:30 am Friday to 10:30 pm Sunday. We do have a generator but you can't run it constantly and it doesn't run everything. Our homes and lives need electricity to function, its just how things are set up in our modern world.

I'm also partly blaming work. When you work in the financial world, the first two months of any calendar year are the busiest, and when you have 20 active clients like I do, you can do the math and figure out I don't have much free time.

The weather also prevented me from riding all week but I do have a lesson on Miss tomorrow morning. I lunged her yesterday and today and she is looking sound and fit. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the hard pads the farrier has been using are going to continue to keep her sound. Even though we're coming up on one year since I took ownership of this horse and about 8 months since I rode her for the first time, I don't think I've ridden her 10 times yet. Between the weather, her health and mine, it's been a difficult first year. But, I am commited to making this relationship work and the past few months have been more productive.

Here are the last group of pictures from our trip to St. Lucia, if you are considering a trip to the Caribbean I would highly recommend it. If you've seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies you'll recognize the Pitons.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I'm very glad the holidays are over. You may have noticed my absolute silence on the entire matter...this is always a difficult time of year. With neither religion nor children, both sides of the celebration are lost to me. I miss my family but I'm constantly disappointed by them. I'm coming out of my rabbit hole and allowing myself to feel again, finally. I rode Miss yesterday and will again today, I had a little chat with my trainer and we're both committed to having me on her back as much as possible.

To start the year off right, here are some more (horse-related) pictures from St. Lucia and a couple new ones of me and Miss at the bottom (notice her new sign?).

This young boy and his yearling creole came down to play in the surf almost every evening at sunset.

D and I on our creole-thoroughbred cross horses on the beach.

Coming back out after a swim.