Monday, April 29, 2013

Quitting the Game

My weekend, which a pessimist might easily compare to a set of testicles, began on Friday with an extremely rough time volunteering at the Therapeutic Riding Center. I could go into all the things I know or I think I know about horses and their behavior, but it comes down to this: one of the horses freaked out (because some stupid high schooler was messing with her girth) at the same moment I was walking behind her. I reached out and touched her butt to let her know I was behind her so that she didn't kick me. And the trainer who runs the Center screamed at me. Mercilessly. In front of a large group of people. It was humiliating. When we moved out to the ring there were a few moments when no one could see my face as I stood beside my horse, and tears started rolling down my cheeks as I decided that after the session (there are 2 sessions per evening) I was going to get into my car, drive away, and never ever go to therapeutic riding ever again.

I didn't. By some grace I didn't know I have, I pulled the tattered shreds of my dignity together and tied them into a serviceable ball, riding a horse for the second session (usually I walk beside a rider, but some of the horses  need training just as much as the riders do, so sometimes volunteers are asked to ride). I left dirty, dusty, tired, and emotionally raw, and I'll be back on Tuesday for more.

The thing about quitting is how goddamn easy it is. The number of games I've beaten: less than ten. The number of games I've quit because I grew frustrated, bored, or reached an obstacle I couldn't overcome: countless. (DISCLAIMER: I quit playing Mass Effect 2 because I started believing that I was Commander Sheppard and began behaving accordingly in my everyday life. This proved somewhat unhealthy, and for the sake of my mental stability I forced myself to put it away). That's not to say that I need to finish every game I play. Some games suck (Golden Ax). Some games are good, but they're just not for me (Red Dead Redemption). But a lot of games would probably have made me happy if I would have just stuck with them instead of throwing down the controller and yelling, "Oh well, fuck it!" Sports and hobbies are much the same. There are a lot that just aren't right for me, but too often we find we've stopped making progress as quickly as we wanted, or we can't get over an obstacle, or we just don't feel like taking time out of our schedules anymore, and suddenly it's "fuck it I quit," and we're on to something else (or back to watching T.V.)

On Saturday I went to the gym, and worked and worked at my cross-back straddles, and made no. fucking. progress. whatsoever. It was as insanely frustrating as any boss fight you can't manage to beat, but today I'm going to go back and try again. And I have to keep trying because I know that after this challenge, there's the rest of this really cool game that I'm going to love. I just have to beat this part. It's the same with jobs, relationships, and all the other shit life throws at us. Some of it is just really, really boring. Some of it is horrifically challenging (see also: Living with My Boyfriend). It's easy to quit. But in the end, when you've reached 100 Smithing or destroyed that disgusting flesh monster or managed to collect your dignity and return to the Therapeutic Riding Center, there will be rewards. They won't always be sitting in a chest waiting for you, but you will find them, and it's so much better than quitting.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Skin/Equipment

So this has been a big week. On Monday I got my hair cut dramatically short and dyed. It was very exciting, getting a completely different style from a professional, fancy hair stylist at an expensive salon. I drove home and decided it would take a little while to get used to the new cut. The next day I completely hated it.

This is me on Monday night, trying to get a decent selfie with The Hair. (This was attempt #5)

For a variety of reasons, chief among them The Hair, Tuesday was a bad day. Nothing horrible happened, but everything seemed just to go wrong. I felt harried and stressed, as if I couldn't escape my life and my responsibilities. My solution? I cut my fucking hair. With scissors. In the bathroom. The best way I can describe this is essentially:

Kate: I'm going to cut my hair.
Life GM: Uh, are you sure? Do you have any skill in that?
Kate: No.
Life GM: Are you sure you don't want to just go and get someone else to do it?
Kate: No. I'm going to do it myself. What do I roll?
Life GM:  Two dice, two successes, difficulty 9.
Kate: I'm burning all my luck for the day...[rolls dice] 9 and 10.
Life GM: Let me see that...Jesus I don't believe it.

And so I sliced in some sweep-back bangs and hacked away the back until it was as thin as I wanted. And by some miracle (or ridiculously lucky dice roll), it fucking worked. My hair frames my face perfectly, and it's super easy to manage. After my little roleplaying session as Edward Scissorhands, I washed and polished down the bathroom til it sparkled and felt goddamn good about myself, and proceeded to play Skyrim feeling like I had scrubbed my soul with a pumice stone. Here I am on Wednesday night after silks, feeling pretty smug about my 'do.

This also shows off my awesome new super comfy unitard (which I did not know existed until I got one)

Moral of the story: From now on I'm going to the Hair Cuttery, and if I hate the result I totally have scissors at home.

And my big, big, big, big, BIG news is that I finally got a camcorder. An awesome, awesome, (ok it's not really that great) camcorder WITH a miniature tripod. Which allowed me to take the following 5 minute video of a routine I would one day like to do. Now, some warnings: 1) This video is boring. I spend a lot of time sitting there being tired. 2) I do not look pretty. I do not point my toes or lock my knees the way I should. 3) I move out of the view of the camera for a while, which is good, because that was when my shorts slipped down. 4) Just in case you can't view the video here, it's also on youtube.

This video is really important to me because it shows me all the ways (and there are so many ways) that I can improve. Clearly I need to engage my legs more, locking my knees, pointing my toes, and generally ensuring that my legs are a part of my performance, rather than stumps hanging off my torso. I need to work on my cross back straddle invert (3:25-3:40). I think Saturday I'm going to hit the gym and just work on my cross back over and over and over again until my arms ache and I'm crying and it looks slightly better. Naturally I also need to speed up this routine so that I can fit more into it. I think that's going to take greater endurance as well as just better familiarity with the moves involved. I need to get more used to linking moves together without dropping back to the floor for a rest between them.

Coming soon! More videos of me sucking at this stuff (and maybe cartwheels). Take care, Internet!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Things Foods Do We Love

So like most of the internet, I feel a need to mock others mercilessly. But aside from that, I also like to celebrate eating, because it's one of my favorite things to do. So to combine these things, today I bring you my farcical rendition of Things Boys Do We Love entitled Things Foods Do We Love.

When food is delicious

When food is there after we play soccer

When food makes me full, but not too full

When food tastes good with beer

When food is deep-fried
ANY food

When food is sushi

So as you may or may not know, we are currently in wedding season. This means that over the next month and a half, I have two weddings to attend, two bridal showers, a bachelorette party, and a graduation. While they're all going to be a lot of fun they also involve dresses. On me. With pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. So my usual attitude of "Hey a little extra fat is perfectly healthy" (studies support this) has turned into "JESUS CHRIST I LOOK LIKE AN OX IN THIS DRESS UUUUGGGGHHHH." While I'm still patiently waiting for burqas to catch on in the states, in the mean time I realize I'm going to have to clean up my diet a bit. "Cleaning up my diet" sounds very simple, but as you, Internet, probably know,it's not. I realized this when I had to leave my dance class to go back to work and lock myself in front of my desk until midnight pounding out a Management Plan. My response, fueled by a combination of post-workout hunger, stress, and depression, was to reach for that one beacon of light that always gets me through tough times. That special someone who's always there for me, even if I don't often visit. The guy that everyone says I'm too good for, but I know in my heart that he's the one: my best friend, my closest ally, my McDonald's.

I ordered an absurdly large meal which consisted of my strategic removal of all redeeming health benefits and replacement with extra calories, as if the calories themselves were some sort of healing balm for my wounded soul. (HINT: they were not). I realized, however, as I stuffed fries into my face while speeding down 28, that this is a mistake a lot of us make: when we're upset, we tend to seek out comfort foods that are heavy in starch, fat, and calories. I'm an emotional eater. And until this project is done, I'm going to be having a lot of emotions, which will entail a lot of eating.

Instead of saying, "No more comfort foods," as I bit into my McDouble, I decided that I was going to change the type of comfort foods I eat. If spoiling myself with something yummy I don't get to eat a lot makes me feel better, then I need to embrace that. I just can't let it cling so hard to my hips that my ass bounces behind me like a fucking beach ball when I'm wearing a bridesmaid's dress. So I decided to start swinging for healthy comfort food. My new thing: smoothies from Robeks. I'm also going for things like fruit with whipped cream, *good* salads (with strawberries and walnuts and feta, that sort of thing) frozen yogurt, sushi, Subway, and basically any healthy food I can use to replace the crap food I usually eat.

Things Foods Do I Love?
When food makes me happy without totally ruining my ability to wear a dress.

P.S. So I was going to include a picture of me eating a smoothie at lunch today, but I didn't get a smoothie. I got ice cream. For details on this atrocity, please visit my friend Audrey Turner at

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

...Aaaaand We're Back!

Sorry. As I stated in January, ain't much goin' on in the winter, which means I haven't bothered to blog. But for a while I've been itching to put up another post, and I've just stalled because I wanted to post some pictures and videos of how far I've come. Buuuuut I don't have any today. It's ok because you guys will read my post anyway, right? Right? ...Guys?

Well for the one or two readers that are still with me (thanks Mom and Dad?) here's what's been up.

I've started working at a Therapeutic Riding Center every Tuesday, and I love it. It's tough. Some of the horses are as special as the kids who ride them, and of course working with children with disabilities is always a challenge. I really like them though. I work a lot with a boy who is very high on the Autism spectrum and gives me no end of trouble throughout his lesson but always cracks me up. I think he's a lot smarter than he lets on, and he plays games and fools around a lot, but he always has this little smirk on his face that totally warms my heart. I'm hoping that with time he's going to feel more comfortable cooperating and interacting with people. Last night I also worked with another boy who is very high functioning but also struggles with Autism and severe anger management issues. We had a great night. He stayed calm and collected almost the entire time, and he did a great job responding to commands. I feel like he's the type that will get the most out of Therapeutic Riding, and I really hope he learns a lot about emotional interaction from working with the horses.

Now that it's warming up outside, I'm also going to start working with the horses on my mom and dad's farm. I'm hoping to come down once or twice a month throughout the summer and fall to train them. Counting the adorable little baby that was born this past weekend, they now have seventeen horses all together. All but two are not "broken" (trained to be ridden), and very few people want a horse they can't ride, so I've got my work cut out for me. I'm going to be working with the newborn filly, a 6-month old colt (man is he nippy), A two-year old colt, a five-year-old gelding, two mares, and a stallion. The stallion I don't have much hope of breaking, but I have to at least get him the point of interacting properly with people and other horses we're going to have any luck of selling him.

In other news, I'm still doing pole fitness and aerial silks. I might actually put up a video of me doing some pole stuff soon since we are starting to learn some really cool inverts and tricks. Aerials continues to be a constant challenge on my body and soul, but I can now actually do a meat hook!! I'm still mastering the art of getting in and out of it, but I'm really proud of it because it takes massive amounts of strength, which apparently I actually have developed. Hopefully there will be some pictures and videos to come. I'm planning to get a camcorder to observe and critique my movements, so of course I'll post some of what I capture. Til next time! (Hopefully next week, and not a year from now).