Tuesday, October 14, 2014


First day at Sub Teacher Training. Think Police Academy movies, then take away everything funny, then add immigrants, workout dudes, grammas, mean old English tutors, young punk TAs with bad grammar, and me wearing underwear for the first time in years, and you've got the room. Skeevy downtown street, 8 floors up with plumbing broken on 1st floor, late because traffic was so bad getting into Undisclosed City (now that I'm going to be working for them, they said no personal stuff on your personal websites or blogs, Los Angeles). But at least I was not getting paid for sitting there practicing being something I don't even want to be. A nice turn. My life has taken. It was actually fun if you scale way down your definition of fun, to like .5. Then it was flavor blasted. The teachers were fun because they were teaching us how to be leaders in the classroom by ACTING LIKE TEACHERS and WE were their classroom. It was subtle. It was awesome subtext. But between wondering what was in the vending machine down the hall and hoping it would all be over soon, we made a bunch of posters about child abuse and sexual harassment (seemed way more important than classroom activities)(I guess they were ruling out what NOT to do), and my table rocked but we did not win any stickers even though I was sitting up straight like she said. Well I was sort of sitting up straight. When I wasn't trying to rest my feet on my puffy haired neighbor's purse. Her hair was flat in front and puffy in back, like she started and then just gave up. I kept staring at it. I am a terrible student, I think. But I felt sort of invisible, like I'm looking out these goggles at all the REAL people, and they're so interesting. The rules are okay and kind of crucial in a classroom, I get it, but don't you kind of want to know what that guy's house looks like? Who his mother is? Why we're all here in this little room on this gross city street on a Tuesday in mid-life? Oh wait, that's only me. I was happy for my non-puffy hair. Here's what I learned. Never allowed to touch a kid. Say 8 good things to 1 bad thing. Which goes against my nature, I'm more of a 4 and 4 girl, or maybe even 7 to 1. That's from 13 years of tired parenting. At home I can still be an asshole, but at school I'll try to bring my mystery box and be ruled and benevolent. We took about three breaks and lunch in the 6 hours I was there. I could not eat that much. I ran up and down the stairs to exercise and then found out you get locked out that way. So had to take the elevator back up. Was very Eloise. You could say I was inspired by the corpulence of some individuals surrounding me. A lot of it was like waking up in someone else's life. But I know it's just because the training for things is weird. The reality of it is I'll be at the school I've been volunteering in for 9 years, I know everyone, I'll have to learn all the rules and stuff, and try to be the best I can so I can make money for the family. That's my goal. I don't have to be a killer teacher. I have to be a killer writer about being a fake teacher, and try not to get fired for writing about my time subbing in Undisclosed City. Los Angeles. Or is it? (I'm already starting my mystery box.) Day two tomorrow. I'll let you know how the hairdos fare in the morning. I'm so excited because it's my graduation, and we've all come so far.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

House warming

There are so many people that live where I live right now, it's kind of like old age hippy house. My morning is spent setting up breakfast in the quiet guest house where Poppa, the 98 year old sleeps on unaware. I set out his pills, put his phone in the right spot, set his coffee water in the microwave, have everything cozy and ready for him. I feed all the animals, bunnies, chickens, horse, dogs. I feed all the kids, there's some grumbling, getting up, there's some hairbrushing squawks, everyone is deposited at school. I'm walking back to my barn and there's the guy in the garage's girlfriend, all dressed and ready for work, passing me in the driveway, like it's normal to say hi to someone in your back driveway at 7 in the morning. But it's kind of strange, this little life with all these people in it. The guy in the garage fixes the pipes when they break, because he's good at it. Poppa gets fed, and chickens get old scraps from yesterday's lunch, and sometimes we all watch tv together, or sports are on and we're all spread out either liking the game or surviving the noise of it, but in a weird way I think this is the family I'm in. It's messy, but the people are good to each other. So maybe that's what family is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Two wonderful trail rides in on big bad Dewey. Last summer sucked, two falls and broken finger and tarnished confidence. It has taken a whole year to get comfortable again - and the only way to do it is to just keep saddling up. And follow Lisa, my trail buddy. If Dewey has his nose in the butt of her horse in front of us, Dewey will walk anywhere. He's got a safety device. It also helps if you ride almost every day, and have a crazy british chick who takes him on Thursday and forces him to do all the scary trails before I have to get on him and do them. Life is good this way. What I love about Hansen Dam is that there is water and woods, and it's not far from my house, and I can discover all this nature, these winding paths through bamboo forests, and in and out of running streams, and everything is so quiet and cool in the dense trees and brush, and we even had a hobo sighting, and Dewey drinks from the fresh water river and it's like exploring a place that isn't assigned to anyone, it's growing free and there's nothing disturbing it. In a busy and harsh big city, getting on Dewey and finding these hidden trails is like layering my body with calming balm. Both Lisa and I sigh a lot on the rides. All the stress just drips off, the horses are quiet, they're our guides, they're there with us, and they don't mind if we just listen to the silence. I am healing my sad confidence issues by just continuing to go out, and I can see, peeking out there in the future, where I will burst forward and get back to enjoying being adventurous. Following any path, seeing where it'll lead, and trusting my horse.

Friday, July 04, 2014

I Gotta Crow

I love our rooster. He's loud, and he came here in a 60 thousand dollar car. He was someone's pet. He was used to living in the house and eating dog food off a spoon. I love craigslist farm and garden. I meet the best people and so far none of them have killed me. This lady gave us her rooster and hen, and here he's not living in the house, just in the yard, and keeping track of 14 hens. I've had hens but not roosters (tried one once but the crowing was so loud and obnoxious, I handed him back over the fence to my neighbor after one day trial), so I had to read about fertile eggs, and how do I know if he's mated with what hen, and I found out that he'll probably survey the flock for a few days or weeks, til he got comfortable, then depending on how active he is, he'll start the humping process (not how they put it online). I didn't know but roosters don't have a penis. Unless this is made up, BackyardChickens says they have a little hole and hens have a little hole, and the rooster just jumps on the hen and shoots a splatter of goo on the hen, hopefully a hole in one, and after 36 hours of the goo absorbing into the shotput throw target, presto, the hen is fertilized for 3 wks. All the eggs can be a winner. I'm not sure why there isn't a carnival game like this. I'm thinking of presenting my idea (The Chicken and the Egg, Fertile Fun for Families) with an outline and pictures for this new eggsciting game for next year's school carnival at the next PTA meeting. Which will undoubtedly be my last PTA meeting, but what a way to go, right?! They'll be talking about that for years, and it will get me out of the PTA, bonus. When our rooster was dropped off, he brought his wife of 2 years with him. They were childhood sweethearts, since they met as chicks. The lady who gave them to me said, mistily, that her hen would lay an egg on her pillow every morning. On her PILLOW, folks. That means, yes, you do not want to sleep over at that lady's house. The nest - not a sanitary area, especially for a nap. They made up the word "unsanitary" after someone slept under a hen's ass once. I have never wanted to go lay down in the chicken coop. I'm guessing the lady is now washing her sheets, and nostalgically missing the smell of chicken poop right now. But this rooster has brought some hope with his loud voice. I have one dark grey hen that is the Heathcliff of hens. Brooding, and skulking about, waiting on her nest, pacing, fretting, waiting for a fertile egg she can sit on and hatch a little bundle of joy. With the rooster and his fertile wife, I have snatched her fertile egg and stuffed it under my Heathcliff, and she is finally satisfied, sitting there with her ultimate job to do, fluff her feathers, keep it warm, shuffle it under her and wait. I like that with every crow, he's telling us there will be more life. Because he is here, he has made one grey hen happy. Because he is here, my other hens can lay baby-filled eggs. There can always be hatching, there can always be chicks, and new life. I like, walking out to the hen area out there, that there is always something new and unexpected going on. Or at least the possibility. It's worth a little crowing.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Silent Partner

After last summer of riding accidents, this summer I put an ad out for other riders to come pay 20 bucks and ride my horse while I watch - my version of spending horse time without risk of death. Also, it's just a lot easier to have a summer with my kids when I don't have to ride everyday, and Dewey is a horse that needs exercise at least every other day. To stay level and mellow. All I have to say is there are ALOT of young women in LA who are experienced riders and need a horse to borrow. Almost every girl that writes me and then comes out to ride is someone who moved to LA and misses their horse at home, and who is happy to pay me to have an hour with Dewey while I hang out, watch them ride, and hear their past history with horses. I'm like the Eharmony of horse hook ups. Luckily Dewey is happy to oblige - he's a gentleman. I took a girl out the other day to show her the trail - I have to walk the dog next to the rider and I figure I'm getting paid to get some exercise, the dog is happy, and Dewey gets out too. Nathan is following us in the golf cart - he's gotten to be a good driver, and is like my secret service - driving up and around, picking up the dog who goes on little rides with him when she gets sick of walking. This young girl has a baby at home, so we end up talking about babies and families and jobs and it is really hot out, and I had a collapsed lung, so I'm always worried I'm going to fall over or something, but I think I'm just getting sunburned. Becky the dog is definitely too hot and letting me know by constantly wanting to get back into the golf cart, and then whining when I don't get in with her. Like, DUDE, the walk is too LONG. GET IN. IT'S A MILLION DEGREES. But every now and then I meet a person that isn't afraid to be honest - about how being a mother is confusing and messy, about how being a mother is bewildering and amazing, about how much of everything in life is just made up. I end up thinking about my 12 year old, and how I don't understand her as well as my other two - because she is the A student, and the one who needs the least, the one who works hard, the middle kid. Then I thought maybe it's not that she needs the least, it's just that she asks for the least. She doesn't know how much she needs, she tries to figure it all out on her own. But when I lay with her and talk about stuff, she still will curl up with me and becomes that young kid again, the one that says "don't leave, momma," when it's getting time to turn off the light for bed. The quietest of us maybe needs the most. We all need attention, that light to grow into like the plants do toward the window. I want her to know I notice her. She is still mine. I don't know what this has to do with Dewey and all the girls I'm meeting, and giving horse time to. They're all away from their moms, maybe for the first time, all graduated from college and moved away and trying to have a grown up life. But when they're on Dewey and we're walking, it all comes flooding back, and there's a young girl up there, missing her home and so happy to be back in a place that is comforting and familiar, where they know what to do, how to function well. On the back of a kind horse. A silent partner, Dewey gives you room to think. The regular beat of his hooves - it's a pretty nice place to be, even just to walk alongside.