June 30, 2010

orphée, revisited

Tonight is the CD release party for our recording of Philip Glass's Orphée, which was recorded during our live performances back in November. It's Portland Opera's first commercial recording, and the first ever recording of the work, which (if you don't recall from my posts on the subject) has had only a handful of performances in its 17 years of life. It's a big honor for us.

(The CDs are downstairs. You can't even buy them yet -- but I can touch them! What a thrill!)

It's exciting for me personally because I will finally be able to listen to the recording in public, with others, out of my secret librarian cave, rather than listening to a bootleg version of the show from one of its previous iterations. On the list of operas I am most likely to be listening to at any given moment, Orphée is second in my heart only to Nixon in China. And it's a very close second. I know a majority of the libretto by heart.

As I wrote in the fall, Orphée taught me a great deal about how to learn to like a piece of music. It's heartening to discover that your tastes can be so easily altered. Before last fall, I often thought of how nice it would be if I could sit down and study the score of each work I was preparing, so that I might have a better foundation in my ear when rehearsals begin. I was never sure how much it mattered, though, and my time was often better spent elsewhere. Now I know the vast rewards I can reap -- emotionally and intellectually -- from a better understanding of the score, and listening along with the music has become a part of my pre-show repertoire. Because I'm still new to this art form, every opera we produce is new to me; it helps immensely to have them in my head before the orchestra ever touches bow to string.

I might be one of the biggest cheerleaders for this particular opera in the world -- seriously. It's still a thrill to read comments on Glass Notes that say, "I've never heard this opera, is it good?" and know that I'm one of only a tiny cluster of people who truly know the show. I'll admit, sheepishly, to a teeny tiny sense of loss at the notion that now every other Glass-phile in the world will be able to memorize the score too. But much larger than my teensy sense of losing 'expert' status is my hope that the recording of this work will give the opera some way of wiggling into the repertoire. I'd like to see it live on.

[ETA: I just spent the time I would otherwise have been running on my lunch break listening to the whole recording in our general director's office. It! Is! So! Exciting! I can't get over it! And I have my own copy now!]

June 29, 2010

walking the wire

It's a strange time lately. I believed the end of the opera season would bring some much needed quiet and rest, but it's six weeks after the close of our last show and everything is as hectic as ever. There are a thousand reasons for this; here is a glimpse:
  • softball
  • horseback riding

    english pleasure

  • stall cleaning
  • feeding horses
  • apartment hunting
  • packing
  • or at least thinking about packing
  • training for a marathon -- or at the very least, running
  • work projects
  • finally enjoying the nice weather
  • tending daily to the garden
DSCF6613 DSCF6612

(I went to the garden this morning to plant a bunch of starts I bought last night. It was nice to begin my day there, in the early morning light; everything was quiet except for the rush of water through the hose. Now in the garden: radicchio, mesclun, radishes, basil, lavender, rosemary, fennel (2 types), catnip, sage, chives, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, butter lettuce, chard, bell peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, canteloupe, lemon cucumber.)

So here is my problem: I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to do on a daily basis, although nearly everything is exciting and good. It's a real conundrum. I would not want to give any of these things up, and in fact, would find it difficult -- each of them is a commitment I've made. I keep having the feeling that if only I could catch up, everything would settle back and I would be okay. I'm happy now -- sometimes radiantly so -- but also struggling.

Oh, blog. There is one more thing for that list. I've been coyly keeping it a secret from you, but I can't keep it forever.

  • boyfriend

late june

it's nearly july. I reach this moment every year with a sense of surprise and slight sorrow. how did it already get to be july? wasn't it just may?

the sun has finally come out in portland. boy, we needed it. we were calling this month junuary. I'm a little too gun shy to call it for sure, but it's quite possible that we might really have launched into summer this time, no fooling. it's good. I was ready for popsicles and sunburn, dusty bare feet, the sweaty backs of necks. I want margaritas and sunglasses, ice cream cones oozing drippy stickiness, the sounds of the locusts in the trees. cold long-necked beers, early sunrises, warm dry heat radiating off the asphalt.

I think I am finally ready to grow my hair out.

June 25, 2010

horse crazy

things at the barn have been suboptimal lately. occasionally I go through periods where being a working student/bartering for my board really takes its toll on me. after two years of working at the barn, I've forgotten what it's like to just show up and ride. now, whether I'm there on a day I'm working or whether I'm just there to ride, the barn is a place where I work; it won't ever again be exclusively the place I go for escape.

I've found myself having more frequent temper tantrums there, mostly over seemingly inconsequential things, like how the current batch of stall cleaners never sweep the hay barn or rake the poo pile; I get irritated when nobody bothers to pull Cookie's water bucket back to its rightful place after she's inevitably yanked it halfway across the stall with her teeth. I lose my cool when I realize that because no one's managed the blackberry bushes behind the port-a-potty, the inside of it -- ordinarily very clean -- has turned into a haven for a particular kind of beetle. The other day, pulling a bale of grass hay from the top of the stack in the hay barn, I accidentally cut the wrong twine line and rather than loosening the bale from the larger pile, I cut it open, meaning that I had to reach over with the hay hooks and manually pull all the hay down. There was no other way to do it other than to let it fall into a giant, horrible, messy pile. Half of it ended up on me, and I was already covered in sweat, and there is almost nothing worse than being in a tank top, covered in sweat, and then pouring a bale of hay on yourself. It's not much different than being tarred and feathered; it's definitely itchier.

As a result of a lot of things, I have not been riding much lately. I find that I'm in a period of waning enthusiasm, which happens on occasion. I'm a little sick of dealing with the rodeo queen my mare has become lately, and inertia, after all, begets inertia: the less I ride, the less I want to ride. My saddle does not fit me or Cookie, and therefore makes me sit in the wrong position, and probably hurts her back. My bit is too large for her mouth. I don't have real boots, only rubber ones.

I go through these periods of discouragement occasionally. After fifteen years, I feel that I should be a better rider than I am. Truth be told, I haven't the faintest idea how to rate my own skill; the only time I ever get the opportunity is when I go to shows, and Cookie behaves so differently in that environment that it's not a clear indicator at all. My general feeling is that I should be better than I am given the amount of experience I have, and yet I haven't any particular piece of evidence that would suggest I'm not a good rider. I no longer have any notion of how I would ride if I weren't riding Cookie. I'm not a trainer, and yet I am training her every ride. I love her immensely, but sometimes it would be nice to just go.

Given all of this frustration, it was remarkably encouraging today when our new clinician, Jamie, came up to me as I was feeding the broodmares. He's been giving lessons for about a month now -- he was the trainer who came in for our jumping lesson a few weeks ago -- and I really like him. He's laid back but knows his stuff, and he's very hands-on but not intimidating. He has decades of experience back in the UK, where he's from, but prefers working state-side -- particularly here in Oregon -- where people aren't so snooty about the sport.

I was standing at the Bobcat, filling a bucket full of some of the loose grass hay, and feeling grouchy and tired. Jamie was walking up the hill, so I waved. "How did you do for the rest of Saturday?" he wondered, asking about the show. "I didn't get to see the last part of the English classes." I told him about how Cookie had turned naughty and had bucked down the rail. He chuckled and shook his head. "You never know what brain your horse is going to have in those shows, do you?" he said. "Well, I hope you can come back to lessons sometime; you can always let me know what you're concerned about and we can work on it." I nodded. He's teaching jumping on Mondays and dressage on Fridays, and in an ideal world, I'd do both; instead, I've only been to the one jumping lesson because I can't afford the $120-$240/mo it'll cost me to attend his lessons every week.

"You looked really good out there during the part of the show I saw," he said. "It was some very nice riding." I can't tell you how that one simple compliment changed the whole color of my afternoon.

June 23, 2010

hey, just kidding guys

I found an apartment yesterday afternoon. Somebody hand me a martini.

June 22, 2010

doldrums

my ordinarily cheerful disposition is being terribly, uncomfortably marred by this apartment search. I recognize that it might seem particularly angst-ridden -- how hard can it be to find a new apartment, for crying out loud? -- and therefore I am here on this blog today to come to my own defense.

My current apartment has two bedrooms, hardwood floors, granite countertops, and new fixtures. There is free wireless internet. I paid no deposit on the place, have two cats, and do not pay pet rent. It's two miles from the office, and a stone's throw from the main route I use to go from the office to the barn. It's a 16-unit courtyard-style building that, despite being inhabited primarily by young 20-somethings, manages to keep pretty quiet. It's within a one-block walking distance from two bars and a sushi place, and a mile's walk from Trader Joe's. My half of the rent: $500.

When I moved into my current apartment, the place I was moving from was 10 miles from the office, located in a semi-iffy suburb right next to a mall, in an admittedly nice apartment with unfortunately tissue-thin walls; depending on which neighbors I had beneath me, I could hear people having sex, people fighting, people listening to Mexican dance music, or people snoring (no joke). Cost of that apartment: $675. Therefore it was significantly easier to find myself a place that felt like a step up -- and even then, last year's apartment search was also horrible. I found an apartment for my July 1 move date on June 17. I didn't sign the lease until June 22.

common scenarios encountered while searching for an apartment

1. Last Wednesday: I drove out to southwest Portland to see an apartment that looked promising in the ad. I arrived to find a TINY apartment in a dilapidated building; the apartment had windows on both sides of the living room, and because it was so small it felt quite literally like being in a zoo cage.

2. Yesterday: I had two appointments scheduled in the afternoon to see two apartments, both in or around the neighborhood I'm in now. I called to confirm my 2:30 appointment at noon, but they called me back at 1 PM. "The apartment hasn't been cleaned yet," she said, "so can we make it Wednesday morning instead?"

I was, in fact, a little relieved, because my next viewing was at 4:15 and I wasn't sure if there was even going to be time to return to the office (in any useful way, at least) between the two appointments. Then at 3 PM, I got a phone call from the other guy. "We rented the apartment this morning," he said. Never mind that I'd made the appointment with him on Friday, and easily could have shown up in the morning hours instead.

3. This morning: I arrived at my 9:30 apartment -- $675, in a great neighborhood, across the street from a cute brunch place -- to find 4 hipsters standing outside the building as well. I silently considered how best to go about annihilating all of them so I could get the apartment first. This scenario -- having to compete for an apartment as if it were a job -- is very, very common in this town, and I never know how to play it. Race in the door first? Scream "I'LL TAKE IT!" the moment I come in?

We were all let into the apartment and I knew right away that I would definitely like to rent it; hardwoods, built-ins in the kitchen, lots of closet space, nice windows, a good sized living room and bedroom. And then, within 15 seconds -- that is not hyperbole -- of walking in, the guy showing us the apartment got a phone call from the leasing office saying that someone had walked in and applied for the place sight unseen. "I'm so sorry, guys," he said. "It's a waste of your time and a waste of mine."

4. I troll craigslist and find a cute apartment only to discover that it's an income restricted property; when I check the income restriction rate for one-person occupancy, it's roughly $2000 under what I make in a year, making me too poor to afford the better apartments and too well-off to qualify for help.

5. I find a great apartment somewhere on the internet and it says "one cat is welcome," or, of course, "sorry, no pets."

Can you understand how this would get a little discouraging?

ETA: To top matters off, I got to work this morning to find this news: summer cancelled?! I read it out loud to my mother and I very nearly cried.

June 21, 2010

rodeo clown

cute in the cross-ties

the barn's annual horse show was this weekend. it was a great turnout -- we had over 100 people come to ride -- but it was a little disappointing otherwise, for most of us. for me: Cookie was very well behaved for the first half of my classes (the walk/trot classes), keeping herself in a pretty frame, steering well, standing (mostly) still while we waited during the breaks. but once we rode in our first canter class, she totally melted down, and I'm still not entirely sure what happened. the first time I asked for the canter, it was as if I had floored it, which was not surprising; she always wants to run and run and run. she picked up the canter incorrectly, "cross-firing," which is what we call it when a horse picks up the lead correctly in the front and incorrectly in the hind end. after that she was very difficult to collect, and each time I cued the canter it was as if a gun was going off. I sincerely could not tell if she was acting up because she was desperate to run, or because she was being naughty, or because she was tired, or because she was sore. after we went bucking down the rail in our equitation class, I hopped off of her to check my saddle and her legs, but nothing seemed particularly out of place. I had one more class to ride, and I hoped to end on a decent note. she had enough time to cool down beforehand, so the first part of the class went okay -- she managed to keep the walk (rather than bursting again and again into trot) and even picked up her canter without too much explosiveness. but in the reverse direction, I again went bucking down the rail. I heard the spectators in the bleachers gasp.

we won two ribbons in our halter classes -- a very exciting first place finish in the mare class (against a large number of horses), and a third place in the saddle type class. but no ribbons in the riding classes. it was no surprise during our meltdown classes, but I felt sincerely that I could not have ridden better in our first five or six classes, which was simultaneously frustrating and comforting. later on I found out that many competitors at the show were complaining about the inconsistency of the judge, and several people at different points throughout the day came up to compliment us on our riding; one person told me, "we thought you were going to win the class, and then you didn't even place!" the ribbons were not what I was there for (mostly), but given that my mare had such a breakdown, it would have been nice to have already walked away with a little something.

it was a typically exhausting horse show day -- I awoke at 5 to arrive at the show barn by 6, where I lunged and then rode Cookie in the arena prior to the main crowd's arrival; then I rode for five hours, untacked, repacked my car, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the western classes. our kids didn't do as well as they usually do; the judge didn't seem to like any of us.

that mare sure is cute, though.

carousel horse

pay no attention to my chair seat. I could seriously use a saddle that fits us both better. I can't get my legs any farther underneath me in that thing.

now it is june 21. I have 19 days to find a new place to live. there's nothing more to say about my mental state than that.

June 18, 2010

growth

the last of the plants that have been kicking around the house are now in the ground at my garden. the current tally stands thusly: radicchio, mesclun, radishes; early girl tomatoes (my favorite), cherry tomatoes; sage, cilantro, chives, thyme, lavender, rosemary, basil; watermelon, canteloupe; lemon cucumbers. the plot is hardly 1/3 full.

I love it over there. the neighborhood is quiet; kids play basketball in the street. a few doors down, a mother calls out, "ashley! dinner!" when garden-neighbors come in through the gate, we water our plots quietly and nod hello. it feels like something out of a remote childhood. on sunday, the ice cream truck drove slowly by; I heard a boy of approximately nine or ten yell in that almost panicked way, "ICE CREAM TRUCK!!!! ICE CREAM TRUCK!!! GET YOUR MONEY!" followed by a flurry of activity. I very nearly got some ice cream myself.

tomorrow is the barn-run horse show. tonight I am headed down there to feed and clean stalls (thankfully with all the horses gone); I have to grab my tack and all my tools, and clean them up, and get snacks, and double-check my show clothes, and then head to the show grounds. I had a very good but very late night last night, and I'm running on maybe 2 hours of sleep. at this point my body is being fueled by sheer stubbornness. tomorrow I'll wake up at 5 and get to the arena by 6 to lunge Cookie, and shine her up, and put her in her show halter for the opening halter classes. I'd like to come home with one riding ribbon. otherwise, the joy in being there is feeling like a part of the barn family.

June 16, 2010

not every day can be a good day. today was hard. I was in one of those singularly foul moods that you get in from time to time, the kind where you wish you could just not exist for awhile, because you feel insufferable and full of frustration, cranky, ready to do battle with the weather and time and inanimate objects. the root cause of this is the debilitating stress I'm feeling over my imminent move; I'm so stressed about it that I've been rendered paralyzed. I look at places online and never follow through; I think about how tomorrow I'll do something about this and it never happens. I'm procrastinating because I patently hate searching for apartments -- chalk it up to a childhood of moving around -- and also because I love this neighborhood and this apartment and haven't the smallest desire to leave. but I just can't afford it, and it's too small to find a stranger for a roommate.

this paralyzing stress has permeated a lot of the other aspects of my life, so that for the past few days I've felt as though I'm in a deep rut, with a lot of things needing to be done and absolutely no drive to do them. little things, like doing my laundry and emptying the garden detritus out of my car, and also big things, like arguing with my landlord about the cost of next month's rent. today it all sort of spun to a head, with the list of things growing and growing and my own frustration, directed inwards, mounting and mounting. it didn't help that I kept accidentally banging my head into things.

I'm a little better now. I vowed to stay awake as long as it took to get a number of things accomplished, even if it meant drinking the pitcher of iced coffee in my fridge; even if it meant seeing 2 or 3 AM for the first time in ages. some things got done. some things are still pending, but I hope to strike at them fresh tomorrow, with less animosity.

tonight at the barn, Cookie was as bad as ever. I've taken to calling her "Death Wish," which is how I feel every time I get on her. I thought she'd be calm today after our ride on Sunday, but she was very hot. I refused to lunge her before riding, because I don't want to fall into the habit of needing to pre-exercise my horse before hopping on. she should have good enough manners and sense to keep herself together, despite her energy level.

should, here, is a nice concept, but we're still in the theoretical stage.

I knew from the moment I walked her down from the barn that I was going to be dealing with Death Wish mare: she was prancing. when I got on, I didn't even bother to fight our normal battle, the battle of Standing Still While Mounting, Thank You. she was so humped up and ready to go that I feared forcing my will upon her would just drive her bonkers. instead we tried to launch into a long trot -- who needs walking? -- only to have my instructor laugh and say, "her feet are hardly even touching the ground!" tell me about it. it felt like riding a loaded gun.

it took us, once again, about ten minutes of jack-rabbiting to settle in. after she finally did she was actually pretty smooth and well-behaved. when the initial threat of imminent demise passes, having slightly too much horse (rather than too little) is nice; she has great impulsion and really collects up under herself, so I have more to work with than when I'm trying to slog her around the arena. it was also a pretty good simulation of what she'll be like in the show ring: full of beans.

still, it's no fun to feel like you're riding towards your untimely demise, even if only for ten minutes. I could really live the rest of my life without all that head tossing, mare.

June 14, 2010

addendum

step 20: be so sore the next morning from 3 1/2 hours bent over in the garden, you have to walk like an old lady.

June 13, 2010

gardening 101

step 1: survey your domain.

trodden

step 2: apply sunscreen to face, arms, neck. attempt to reach middle of back; find all contortion efforts unsuccessful. settle on covering only reachable parts.

step 3: admire neighbor gardens.

pretty pretty neighbor garden

chard!

step 4: pick up $2 spade; get working. turn dirt lovingly. pull out little stones, occasional weeds.

hard freaking work

step 5: get legs real dirty.

yay dirt

step 6: get back to tilling. wipe brow. feel sunburned.

step 7: kick off shoes.

be gone!

step 8: meet your neighbor, Warren. feel slightly naked in your skimpy tank top and shorts, since he's clad in a sweatshirt and jeans. feel like a hippie when he glances at your bare feet, which are buried in dirt.

neighbor.

step 9: become embarrassed when your cell phone goes off, because the ringer is all the way up and it's your mother; her ringtone is the theme song from The Price is Right.

step 9A: internally apologize to Warren.

step 10: realize you've been working on your garden for nearly an hour and you're less than a third of the way done. abandon loving, careful tilling of soil in favor of strenuous hoeing; begin using feet to mix up dry dirt clods.

step 11: wonder if that sunscreen is working.

step 12: admire your work so far.

good tools.

before & after

step 13: try to ignore back pain.

step 14: finish turning bed with an exhausted flourish. flop down on the grass. call your mother.

step 15: realize you have no idea how to organize your garden. take a stroll past the neighbors' gardens for inspiration.

step 15A: copy become inspired.

step 16: become exasperated with how long you've been working; finally plant your first plant.

first plant

step 16A: plant subsequent plants. suspect they look inadequate. wonder silently if you should have thought more about spring plants versus summer plants.

step 17: try not to compare your greens

sad little greens

to your neighbors' greens.

coveted greens

step 18: realize you've hit the level beyond ravenously hungry and may have moved on to hypoglycemic; plant the other plants in a hurry.

step 19: eat a burger, fries, and a milkshake. feel sore. examine sunburn. wince at sunburn. take luxurious shower. feel hungry again. eat toast, fall asleep on the couch with the cat.

in other news, Cookie nearly made me eat the dirt today. the barn owner let two of the mares out to graze in the front pasture, and they ran up to the back arena gate, startling the crap out of both of us. for probably two straight minutes Cookie pranced, jigged, and spun; she wouldn't stand still and had pretty much forgotten about me altogether. it was like riding a tightly coiled spring. I couldn't dismount without fearing she'd bolt and take me with her. I'm pretty sure I had a look of holy terror on my face as I tried to calm her down, keep her from exploding, figure out what to do, and stay on.

I had to negotiate with her for about ten minutes. TEN. MINUTES. and then, slowly but surely, I got her brain back. we rode for over an hour. I did not dismount -- voluntarily or involuntarily. by the end of the ride she was ignoring the mares. I consider the whole episode a major success.

June 11, 2010

edited to add

I am feeling very downtrodden about money today. moving is hard on finances in general, and I hate being in the limbo of not knowing what my future rent will be, or how much of a deposit I'll have to pay, or how far into the hinterlands I'll have to go in order to afford to live. I am, in general, growing weary of this stress. there's obviously great joy to be had in working in a field you truly love -- I'm the last person to deny it -- but in my case, it comes at a price. last week, I steadfastly defended my choice to continue down this career path to my backpacking buddy, who wondered, incredulous, why I don't find some alternative. what alternative, I asked him, do you suggest I find? I suppose I'm stubborn and angry that I'd ever have to make that choice. a career in the arts never promised to be anything but impoverished; a master's in music never promised to be a golden ticket. but it would be nice to stop worrying about it for awhile.

tonight at the barn, all this weighing on my mind, I had a major temper tantrum when I went to dump the wheelbarrow and discovered that still, no one at the barn is managing the poo pile. unglamorous, I know, but true. I've long been the unofficial 'poo fairy,' going out at least once a week with the pitchfork to rake down the piles people dump. it's back-breaking work, and can take me several hours. otherwise, the entire thing becomes unnavigable. I worked on it on tuesday for much longer than I should have, and as a result I was at the barn until nearly 10 PM; I came home exhausted. today it was as bad as it had been before I worked it on tuesday, and there's no excuse for it.

but all this is to say: as I was driving home from the barn tonight, sweaty, hungry, dirty, and cranky, the sky at the horizon finally cleared of cloud, and it was such a deep and remarkable blue that it very nearly made up for everything else. you could have fallen into it forever.
I awoke this morning half an hour before my alarm went off, not out of any sort of industriousness or bushy-tailed morning energy but because one of the cats (and I have no doubt which one) knocked something that sounded vaguely glass-like onto the floor. I darted out of bed so fast I was not quite awake yet, to discover both cats looking culpable but no obvious knocked-over thing in sight. I checked the living room and kitchen, the likeliest places, and then poked my head in the (dark) bathroom to check the items on the sink. When I didn't find anything, I went back to bed.

A half hour later I came back out, and when I flipped on the light in the bathroom I realized that they had managed to knock one of our bathroom shelves almost entirely off the wall. What I heard fall were two glass candle holders which luckily didn't break. The shelf won't stay up anymore.

I should also mention that I was already in a bad mood because I woke up with that Train song, "Hey Soul Sister," in my head.

When I went to put everything in my car, I realized I had parked next to a strip of grass that appears to have not been mowed since last summer. It was wet from rain and almost knee high. I was wearing canvas flats.

I got to work and had an email from the Arabian Horse Association, saying that my renewed membership card had been returned to them. "We sent it to the following address, could you please update us?" they said, and then listed my current address, no errors. "It was marked 'vacant return to sender,'" they said. This is the second item of mail in a week to be inappropriately returned to sender. I already hated my mail guy for consistently delivering the wrong mail to my mailbox, and now it's entered a whole new dimension.

An hour into my work day I received a confirmation from my landlord of my intent to vacate my apartment. Out of -- who knows? profound laziness, or maybe an inability to believe I'm moving -- I didn't declare my intent in writing until yesterday, which means my official move out date is July 10. I consoled myself about the extra 10 days' rent by telling myself that I at least have ten extra days to find a place, plus there's the possibility of an overlap of apartments, giving me extra time to move. The emailed confirmation states that NOPE! They seem to believe I owe full rent for July: $1100.

Grandmom, I know you're reading this so please forgive me for a second: They can go fuck themselves. I'm not paying $1100 in rent to live in my apartment for ten days.

It's noon; it was supposed to be sunny today but it's still oppressively overcast, cold, and raining. The office is freezing because they're installing new windows on one side of our building, and it smells like cigarette smoke because the window installers are smoking.

I was going to run on my lunch break but I'm writing this instead because I've decided I refuse to go out there. I'm giving you the stink-eye, Portland: it'll be sunny at 5, right?

tl;dr this is my day. pretty much exactly.

June 8, 2010

these days

these days:

one of the cats sits directly outside my bedroom door when I am inside it. directly outside. when I open the door, his nose is pressed to the corner of the frame, waiting. he slithers off nonchalantly when I walk out, or sometimes he stands in place, directly in my way, waiting to be shooed.

I wonder very honestly how it got to be june.

I continue to be too competitive in my recreational runs; today, just after the steel bridge platform came back down, the (male) runner just behind me huffed and huffed, waiting impatiently as all the cyclists and walkers in front of us gradually trickled across. there was no use in going around -- you would just make the traffic worse -- but he went by anyway. a quarter mile later I passed him, knowing full well I was going faster than I should, because he seemed like the kind of guy who didn't want to be passed, especially by a little bit of a girl. he never caught back up.

I'm trying to convince myself that I'm really moving out of my apartment; that I really have to do it in just a few weeks. I'm living in a state of very sincere disbelief. I like my neighborhood and my apartment; I hate apartment hunting. do I have to?

The most common comment about my hair is "wow! it's growing so fast!" which happens to be true.

I am, by some divine stroke of the universe, spending a good portion of my time consumed by radiant happiness.

June 7, 2010

vacating

DSCF6459

This past week was the opera's third (and final) furlough week of the 2009-2010 season. I spent the first furlough riding my horse, cleaning the apartment, and generally enjoying a really wonderful week at home catching up on my loafing. The second furlough took place over the holidays; I was at home with my family.

I spent part of this final furlough with an old friend from high school, who came to town Tuesday for his first visit to the northwest, to be split between seeing Portland and backpacking.

DSCF6454

We're in the middle of a seemingly endless wet spell, which is trying the patience of all but the most seasoned Portlanders. (Like some others, I am frankly about to lose my mind). We got lucky this week and the weather mostly cooperated.

DSCF6446

DSCF6445

We left for our trip on Wednesday, though much later than we had planned because we were both too tired Tuesday night to pack. In the end, it worked out swimmingly: it rained the entire drive but cleared up the moment I hit Olympic National Forest.

DSCF6443

We hiked along the Duckabush River; it was fun to hear my friend's awed take on the intensely verdant old growth forest, a setting not uncommon around here, and one I've become surprisingly used to. We didn't start hiking until after 4 PM, but managed to make it to the five mile marker, set up, cook dinner, and hang our bear bag just before dusk, with impeccable timing.

I was really proud to remember a useful knot for the bear bag. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE knots? I added about a dozen of them to my repertoire several years ago, while dating a boy scout troop leader. I even went so far as to create a knot board -- a display of the knots you've learned -- and was informally inducted into "the order of the knot." (I have the certificate to prove it). Sadly, though I have a sharp memory, it's impressively terrible at remembering how to tie cool knots. So it was a total kick to tie the hitch for our bear bag and have my friend sincerely admire it.

DSCF6442

The next day we decided to leave everything set up and hike further into the park without our packs in order to cover more ground. It turned out to be a great plan; the weather started out nice but got progressively more ominous as the day wore on. We hiked about five miles before hitting a stream crossing that required too much effort and potential soaked-ness to cross. On our way back it was decided that we'd seen about as much as we could see on our current trail, which (although beautiful) did not intersect with any other trails for at least 15 miles. We concluded that neither of us wanted to sleep in the potentially pouring rain only to hike back out in the morning, so we came home a day early. It did in fact pour the entire next day, so I felt pretty good about the decision. Instead of backpacking on Friday, we met up with another old friend from school, drank coffee, and then played video games on my old Nintendo.

By the way, I gamed the system a little bit: backpacking in Olympic National Park has been on my to-do list for several years, but I did put it on the list intentionally this year knowing with certainty that it would get done less than a week later. The list's rules are always in flux, people.

My vacation was bookended by two deliciously lazy weekends spent in better company than I could hope to ask for. Today I have that wonderful, exhausted feeling of needing a vacation after your vacation. In this case it means the week was well spent. I'll take it.

June 1, 2010

29.

My birthday weekend was so wonderful, it almost defies description. I don't even know what to tell you about it, except to say that it was full of the things that make me happy. I actually don't much want to talk about it; it feels quietly sacred somehow. Suffice it to be said: I love twenty-nine so far.

I will tell you one of my weekend activities: I had a great jumping lesson with Cookie on Monday night. They've brought in a trainer originally from the UK to help the 4H kids with their jumping and dressage prior to their big show this summer, and have opened up those lessons to those of us who are interested. I haven't done much jumping in the last ten years, and Cookie has done hardly any, so I expected it to be sort of a disaster, especially given that her steering mechanism is not always so good. But she was a superstar. She jumped everything I pointed her towards, even if the approach was bad. And the physical memory of how to ride a jump remained in my body throughout all this time. What a gift. The last jump we cleared was probably over two feet, which doesn't sound like much until you're trying to get your horse over it. Cookie sort of sat back mid-stride as if she wasn't going to do it, and then surprised me by rounding up over it beautifully. Afterwards the trainer said, "Well, she surely is willing!" Sometimes she is so giving of herself that I feel wretched having ever been frustrated with her. That animal tries her heart out for me, and I am so grateful to her, and occasionally humbled.

Tomorrow I'm headed out to Olympic National Park with an old friend from high school, who came to town today so we could get our backpacking gear situated. We were going to enjoy a day doing PDX sight-seeing things, but he got up at 3:30 and promptly arrived at the WRONG AIRPORT for his flight; I haven't had more than 5-6 hours of sleep since last week. We stopped at Powell's for ten minutes, ate crepes and french fries at the food carts, and came back here to play on my old school Nintendo before I dragged him to the barn so I could feed. We shopped for our trip, and now we're fully stocked but were too tired to pack. When we got back here, we stuffed ourselves full of sushi and promptly went to bed. It's supposed to rain rather seriously throughout our 3-day trip. I'm pretty sure we're going to come back covered in moss.