Work is tricky right now and that is all I can really say. It was so cool outside today which only means one thing...it's soon going to be freezing cold. Right about now, I'm totally fine with that. The past two days were so hot I thought I was going to collapse. I had to go to the vet yesterday which is always an experience. At least it wasn't like last Friday where I got stuck there for 2 hours before anything got accomplished and was on the phone the entire time going through shit. Of course, yesterday I had a day full of DRB. He drives me absolutely nuts, so much so that I wonder at times how he became a vet. He is pretty scatterbrained when it comes to certain things like oh say...lamenesses. His plans seem so unorganized to me. I had to take three horses there and bring one home. It was so hot. The pavement out by the truck and trailers was literally radiating heat. I also of course forgot to bring any kind of cooler with me so my drinks were hot within 10 minutes of my being there and I had to fill them up with gross water from the water cooler they have. DRB and I got into a quarrel about one of the horses and he wouldn't write down any kind of instructions for me, like I am going to remember all of the instructions for the 4 horses I had to take home. So he wrote it on top of one of the medications in classic shorthand that I could barely read. I did get to see DRN, which was nice. I want to marry someone like that man.
So I was at the vet yesterday from 9 am to 12 pm, which doesn't seem like that long until you figure that I left the barn at 7 am and got back to the barn at 1:30 pm. So that means I spent a total of 6 hours just doing vet stuff. I told DRB & DRN that until they give me an hourly pay, I will not touch a single horse of mine other than to get it on and off the trailer. I'm sorry but my job does not require me to also work for the vet clinic. They have tech's to do that. DRN is usually good about finding someone to jog the horses and help him, but DRB always without fail orders me around and I have to remind him first of all that I don't work there and secondly, he needs to say please and thank you. I bring him a heck of a lot of business.
Today was Matt's birthday so he and I went to lunch at this place called the Bee Cave Bistro. We were laughing because without fail we always go there and forget how goddamn slow the service is. Seriously, the place is pretty good in terms of the food but they are either way understaffed or just poorly staffed. Maybe a little of both. The people that work there are all so bizarre and different from one another, there definitely is no unity in their staff whatsoever. The only redeeming factor of the BCB is the muffins they serve to you. They are like the size of a half dollar and they serve you two when you sit down but technically they are supposed to bring you more while you wait for your food. Not only did it take for freaking ever to get the damn muffins after I flat out asked for them, they never brought us more. So I picked through my spinach salad and then ate some of Matt's fries that he didn't eat. I can't believe Matt is 27. Such a crazy thought...when I met him he was 24. What is even weirder is that I was 18. I was so young back then and 24 was an unimaginable age. He was out to have sushi and sake bombs with Ryan and some other people tonight. I told him my big plans for the night were to go home and crawl into bed and sleep.
Unfortunately that didn't end up happening. I got stuck at work again longer than expected and then when I got home from work I had my second headache of the day. The last two days I have had headaches and thought it was from the heat. But I am thinking now that isn't it and maybe I'm just stressed. I knew there would be no sleeping going on. In fact, it's now 11:00 and I'm not even tired.
I talked to Evan, Noah and Jason some tonight. I am becoming concerned about my male friends that I have collected. I think I have lost interest in my girl friends. I guess that isn't true--I still talk occasionaly with Jennie and Claire. Amy and I are bonding over our shitty luck. But Christina and I have kind of grown apart over the last few months. I had dinner with her last night and saw her new apartment, her new car, and basically heard more about her job. Ever since she started working full time it's been hard to keep up with her. She is the happy hour queen and of course has been making the rounds with her male coworkers. I worry about her...hope she's being smart about all that...but I of all people understand the concept that there is nothing I am going to say to her that will 1) make her feel better about anything she is choosing to do or not to do and 2) change her mind or her actions. She's going to do whatever it is that she chooses to do and then suffer those consequences.
Which reminds me of something Jason told me tonight. I always tell Stella how funny it is that this crazy dude she liked so much in Vegas still even talks to me. I think it's just his kind of attitude on life...he's kind of a "hanger-on." But he has some good things to say and is interesting. He was reminding me of the fact that right after he met me I was consumed with the notion that I was never going to meet any decent guys. This was after the end of BL and myself. And he's right. Although I knew that BL wasn't going to work out, and it was okay with me at that point, I was still irritated that there were some qualities in BL that I should be able to find in other people. I was convinced that it just wasn't going to happen. I wouldn't change anything about my experience with BL and often ponder trying to set him up with one of the wealthy younger women who rides at the barn. She would be perfect for him. Closer to his age, same demographic, could match him financially, and is more or less fun to be around. But I think that would probably not be the best thing to try to do for either of them. I'd rather not get into any kind of details with her about how I know a 34 year old Dellionaire, and he probably would rather avoid that as well.
I think Noah, Amy and I are going to try to do something Saturday night. If Noah asks me one more time when he can take me on a date again I think I am going to scream. I consulted with Shiri on this one and she said "I think going out again with Noah would be a big N-O." I've got to agree with her but he is fucking persistent. It's just that our first experience together wasn't exactly a huge success--rather, it was a miserable mess and why the hell would I want to try my luck again? We wouldn't even have this problem if it wasn't for Katrina. He of course is a Tulane evacuee and now he's back living here again and lonely, or something like that. I wish he would get it through his head that I would rather just be friends with him right now. I feel like someone took me outside and shook me like a rug. I am an emotional wreck--hazardous material, if you will. So I told him that I would reintroduce him to Amy whom he apparently had a crush on in like 4th grade if he would just go out in a group with us because the truth is, he is a really nice guy and he knows a bunch of people in Austin. Amy and I have made it our goal to get plugged back into the Austin social scene at whatever cost. Maybe Christina will come with us or we can at least try to meet up with her and her worker buddies, although that is almost like cracking through a bachelorette party. Next to impossible.
And that's all I guess I really know. Board bills to do tomorrow, have to ride a horse or two, and I have a couple of lessons in the evening. Saturday we have a new customer coming to our barn (I will be glad when some of that dies down, it is getting tiring but I guess a good problem to have) and some more lessons. Then I'll probably bust out of there.
I know this isn't very interesting or even really that ground-breaking. I'm just trying to keep busy here. I went running tonight for 40 minutes from 9:20 to 10:00 just to try to rid myself of some of this pent up energy. It is not getting easier yet. I don't think I've reached that downhill slope. Jason thinks I'll get there but I don't know. I can't remember how long it took before but honestly I think it took a long time. I was just lucky that I had my job to focus on a little bit more back then.
I'll get it. I've got to find it first but I'll get it.
comments - leave your own!
(21:31:37) TankerLT812: same old stuff i hate my job i come homevery ight and drink(21:32:10) rtruairf84: ah. well you know you should drink red wine if you're going to drink that much
(21:32:22) TankerLT812: tru
(21:32:25) TankerLT812: but i m acheap
(21:32:27) rtruairf84: because soon you will need a new liver and then you will just have a horrible job AND a horrible liver
(21:32:35) rtruairf84: yeah.
(21:32:37) rtruairf84: buy cheap wine
(21:32:55) TankerLT812: all good i will probly be at war by then
(21:33:09) TankerLT812: chances are much better that i dont amke it back next time(21:33:16) rtruairf84: don't say that.
(21:33:22) TankerLT812: sory
(21:33:28) rtruairf84: don't apologize to me!
(21:35:02) TankerLT812: umm ok
(21:35:31) rtruairf84: so....since i don't have anything else to do i have decided that i'm gonna do this:(21:35:32) rtruairf84: With Texas holding the largest number of active-duty service members, the demand for this service is that much more great. Luckily, a local group of concerned citizens is in the process of putting together the Austin GI Rights Hotline, part of the national network of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations dedicated to providing information to members of the military, old and new. (Last year alone, the national GI Rights hotline received 32,000 calls, which speaks volumes about this country's process of enlistment.) This local group is looking for volunteers who are willing to make a commitment of two hours per week for up to one year to attend training on Oct. 1-2.
(21:36:09) TankerLT812: umm waht do they do?
(21:36:34) rtruairf84: There's nothing worse than making a decision you can't get out of – except maybe making that decision based on false information from someone wearing a U.S. Army uniform. For some young soldiers, the choice to enlist is based on economic pressures, false promises from recruiters who are under a great deal of pressure to produce new enlistees, or conversations held without their parents' knowledge. Whatever the reason, it's important that these kids have an avenue to learn what rights they do have, whether it is in the face of conscientious objection, mistreatment by officers or fellow soldiers, having gone AWOL, or simply wondering what the hell they've gotten themselves into.
(21:37:12) TankerLT812: everyone is entitled to their oppinion
(21:38:02) rtruairf84: what d o you mean
(21:39:05) TankerLT812: i jsut think that anyone who signed up and claims they didnt know they were probly going to iraq.......i mean ever since 9-11...when i signed up up i knew the likely hood saly at the time it seeemd sexy
(21:40:13) TankerLT812: not tying to argue
(21:40:17) TankerLT812: jsut my opionion
(21:40:21) rtruairf84: well it's not just only for people trying to get CO status.
(21:40:33) rtruairf84: i think it's more of just a place to talk to somebody about it more than anything else.
(21:40:39) TankerLT812: that works
(21:40:46) rtruairf84: rather than talking to the fucking IG
(21:40:54) rtruairf84: which take it from me isn't very helpful
(21:41:02) TankerLT812: a famous historian...i foget who
(21:41:19) TankerLT812: said that we are condemmend every two generation to have a war...(21:41:20) TankerLT812: because
(21:41:46) TankerLT812: thats how long it takes for everyone to forget how jhorrible it is...and the stories turn to those of glory and fame
(21:42:08) TankerLT812: ie "my grandpappy was in wwII and stormed the beaches of normandy"
(21:43:50) rtruairf84: so. you're saying that there's not much to do about it?
(21:44:03) TankerLT812: not at all
(21:44:16) TankerLT812: i am jsut saing that its cyclical
(21:45:03) TankerLT812: i am not worried about my job security
(21:45:27) TankerLT812: as muca s i ahteed every second there is a peice of me that misses it(21:45:39) rtruairf84: that's such a weird paradox
(21:45:42) TankerLT812: yup
(21:45:52) TankerLT812: as out of control as the situation was
(21:46:00) TankerLT812: i felt more in contronl on those streets then i do here
(21:46:50) rtruairf84: well i think that probably is true. do you think a lot of it had to do with your sense of purpose in life and that there you had a visceral purpose and here it is more abstract and distant?
(21:47:57) TankerLT812: maybe
(21:48:01) TankerLT812: it was also a power trip
(21:48:21) rtruairf84: and maybe as much as war is glorified from generation to generation, a big part of it is the fact that you feed off that glory/power trip and it reflects to the people around you?
(21:48:36) TankerLT812: yup
(21:48:41) rtruairf84: maybe that's how war becomes so justified.
(21:48:47) TankerLT812: i thknk its part of the ptsd
(21:49:24) rtruairf84: what is ? the glorification or the justification?
(21:49:29) TankerLT812: all of the above
(21:49:35) TankerLT812: we glorify and justify
(21:49:38) TankerLT812: casue we ahve to
(21:49:45) TankerLT812: to get through everyhting we have done
(21:51:28) rtruairf84: so i think that this historian dude you're talking about has it wrong. because i don't think there's any forgetting going on. i think just the opposite. there is that continuous wanting and needing to justify and glorify and because it is always on the forefront of people's mindst they think they can fix everything and make the world perfect by doing it "just one more time."
(21:52:39) TankerLT812: a valid point
(21:52:42) TankerLT812: you know what
(21:52:44) TankerLT812: i want to thank you
(21:53:00) TankerLT812: this i by far the most educated and thoughful conversaion i have had in 2 yrs
(21:53:13) rtruairf84: wow.
(21:53:23) rtruairf84: that's probaby the nicest thing someone has ever said to me chris.(21:53:36) TankerLT812: i mean it...
(21:53:42) TankerLT812: i dont get challenged verty much
(21:53:46) TankerLT812: not to sound egotistical
(21:53:51) rtruairf84: i understand.
(21:53:53) TankerLT812: but i dont ahve a whole lot of conversations
(21:54:11) rtruairf84: and so comes in the drinking.
(21:54:30) TankerLT812: no sdaly i can drn beer all night
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Why, you might ask, would any American with half a heart want to do that?
Let me tell you my reasons for my outrage. I suppose, if I was the person I was about a month ago, I would be a lot like you. I would be watching CNN coverage of the hurricane relief effort, feeling sorry for the people who were displaced from their homes. I would wonder why the Mexican Navy was called in to help out with the humanitarian aide and then just decide it was some tactic on the government's part to bring up their Latino voter's morale. I would watch all of the daring rescues made by the National Guard and see the Army Corps of Engineers hard at work draining the flooded areas, and I would have absolutely no concept of the fact that there were about 5,000 other men and women there unable to do anything.
You see, I live my life in an ignorant fog of media because I am just that: ignorant. I am too lazy to try to sort through the piles of conflicting information I receive. What good would it do anyway? The goverment is so beyond my help, beyond my scope of repair, that how would I make a singe lick of difference in the grand scheme of things?
But this would have been me a month ago. Two things happened in my life in the past month which have inspired me to act:
1) I met DJS.
2) I met an Iranian man on my plane ride back from LA.
They are both separate instances of chance encounters with people that I could have otherwise overlooked. Had I done that, I would probably be in the same haze of discontent that I was in a month ago. I don't like the government, I disagree with just about everything that happens politically these days, and I realize that I am but one person with not enough money or power to change anything.
But whatever the reason, I didn't miss these people. I caught them on the radar, for they were both just below it, and dug in.
The Iranian man really just had one phrase that I keep thinking about over and over and over.
It is better to walk forward with a hurt leg than to go nowhere and wait for it to get better.
I'm sure that that Persian phrase is probably even more beautiful and lyrical in the native tongue, but it certainly applies to many aspects of my life right now.
Which brings me to DJS. I probably could lend a sympathetic ear and not be bothered by the fact that he and 4,999 other men and women are basically treading water (no pun intended) on the edge of the Mississippi in New Orleans, waiting for something to happen, waiting for someone to come to their aide and tell them what the hell they are there for.
The 1st Cav is not the National Guard. Under constitutional law, they cannot provide humanitarian aid like the National Guard can. There is a reason the military is set up this way--one very good reason is that the Army men aren't supposed to be your best friend. They are trained to protect and serve, not to go around handing out bottles of water and heart medication.
With that being said, if they could legally lend a helping hand in the Katrina relief they would be more than happy to. At this point--they're itching to do something. A bunch of soldiers are basically doing absolutely nothing, being told nothing, and are just waiting for something to happen so they feel they have a purpose. Meanwhile, they all know that hanging over their heads is a big sign that says "IRAQ" which is where they will all go shortly after returning from New Orleans. So in the meantime, they are spending more of their precious time away from their families, away from the basic necessities of their daily lives (i.e. running water, showers, real food, etc.) and away from the basic comforts and freedom of the USA, which is exactly what the government is sending them all to Iraq to fight for. How about letting the men and women experience a little bit of that while they're here?
So needless to say, I've gotten kind of irritated. Not just because DJS is there. Not just because I wish I could see him and be around him. What really gets me is that DJS is an amazing person who has gone and sacrificed more than I ever will sacrifice for my country. I can recognize that in him, and I am certain that the rest of the men and women who have gone and fought are equally as precious to me and my country. Why then are we treating their precious lives with so little respect for their time here in the United States? If he's there just to sit around and wait, why don't the send me and everyone else who has just been loitering around the United States enjoying the very freedom that they provide. Let these guys take some time off and don't let it be time off in a hell hole like New Orleans where they have nothing!
I've been on my one-woman media crusade trying to send letters to everyone but Santa Claus about the ridiculousness of all this. Here is the letter I have sent to Senators Cornyn (R) and Hutchison (R) as well as Congressman Smith (R). Notice a pattern?
Below is the letter that I sent out:
September 11, 2005
Dear Congressman Smith,
I am writing this letter in hopes of finding some answers not only for myself but for the men and women of the 1 st Cavalry of Ft. Hood, Texas who were sent to New Orleans, Louisiana last week.
The understanding that I have is that the US Army may not serve as a humanitarian group or in the same capacity as the National Guard under Constitutional law. While the Posse Comitatus Act has been weakened due to Homeland Security concerns, it does still exist. Why then are we not still following it?
Communication between the soldiers currently serving in Joint Task Force Katrina and their commanders has been nothing less than cryptic. The Family Readiness Groups are not useful sources of information for family members like myself. I feel it is only fair that after my family member spent over a year in Iraq that we at least be given answers as to why he will now be away for what is reportedly going to be another three months. Here are my questions that I need answered.
1) Who made the decision to send the 1 st Cavalry to New Orleans to join forces with the National Guard and the 82nd Airborne Division? The dots just don't connect in terms of military strategy.
2) Who is going to make the decision to send the 1 st Cavalry back home again? Why is it that he hasn't made any effort to inform families of why their family members must be gone?
3) What specific purpose is the 1 st Cavalry currently serving? I understand that there needs to be a presence in New Orleans but that is what law enforcement is for, not military personnel.
4) What is the 1 st Cavalry's mission? The reports I am getting are that there is no mission. The soldiers' morale has hit bottom because there is nothing for them to do in New Orleans, either because of Constitutional law or lack of planning on the part of the government.
5) Why is the government keeping these people who just got back from Iraq in New Orleans for three more months? Three months is the time frame that I have been told. This is absurd. Three months are precious in the scheme of things when you are talking about sending the same men and women away for another year in Iraq in the near future. These people have barely been home at all. When you combine that with the previous concern that they are serving no purpose, other than being away from their families, you can understand the frustration.
As a civilian of the United States of America, I find it appalling to hear that such little planning has gone into sending troops from a cavalry division to New Orleans. They are not National Guardsmen; they are not the Corps of Engineers. They are serving because they have been told to do so, but they don't know what they're supposed to be doing.
I speak on behalf of the soldiers and family members alike when I say that we are worthy of answers sooner rather than later. The sacrifices made in Iraq have left these men and women with short fuses and embitterment toward a government that is now treating their time at home as if it were expendable.
Our forces deserve more respect than that. They deserve immediate answers and immediate action.
I also sent a letter to Chris Bell (D), who will be running for Governor of Texas in 2006. I attached my above letter and also wrote this:
Dear Mr. Bell,
I first saw you speak at Al Franken's Air America show at the State Theater a few months ago when you were first announcing your bid for governor (I actually think at that time that you were not yet decided either way). I was extremely impressed with your stance on state and national politics, and I took a liking to your down-to-earth demeanor. I have since been keeping up with your campaign. You are one of the first politicians that I have actually had an immediate trust in.
I am now calling on your help and support in whatever capacity you might have. I am a family member of a serviceman in New Orleans currently helping with Joint Task Force Katrina. The situation there, while devastating, is becoming equally troubling for the families of Ft. Hood soldiers who have yet again been sent away. I am including a letter that I wrote to Congressman Lamar Smith in an effort to find some answers to the many questions that we are at present left wondering. Any assistance you could provide in finding answers would be much appreciated.
Not surprisingly, I haven't heard back from any of the people with the little (R) next to their names. They must have looked at my voting record. But, surprisingly, I did hear back from Chris Bell's Operations Director, Tim McCann.
Chris has asked me to dig around a little bit on this and see what I can turn up, so I'll let you know if I find any answers for you. I can barely imagine how frustrating this must be for you, so we'll do what we can to try and help you find answers. To be honest, I think your best bet would probably be to call the offices of your Congressman or Senators. We'll do what we can to turn up some answers, but current office holders will be able to provide much more assitance than we will, and since this is a federal issue, they'd be the best folks to talk to.
So I'll let you know if we find any answers, but in the meantime, my best advice would be to follow up on your letter to Rep. Smith with a phone call to either his DC or his TX offices, and then to contact Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn as well.
You'll be in our thoughts and prayers in the weeks ahead, and I'll be in touch if we're able to find anything more than you have already.
Chris Bell for Governor
2520 Longview Street, Suite 410
Austin, TX 78705
Color me impressed. I honestly didn't expect to hear back from anyone. I thought my letter-writing would just bring out a lot of auto-responses from the different politicians.
I have moved into Phase II of Operation Forward March, my one-person campaign to represent the interests of soldiers. I spoke with the Inspector General of Ft. Hood this morning, Master Seargeant Waggoner. Below is more or less how the conversation went down:
RF: Hi I have a family member in the 1st Cavalry currently serving in New Orleans on JTF Katrina and I'm trying to find some answers to some questions I have and I was wondering if you're the person I need to speak to?
MSW: Have you contacted your rear detachment?
RF: Uh...No, I don't think I have (WTF is rear detachment?)
MSW: Okay well that's probably who you should talk to but if you just have general questions, I can help you with those.
RF: Well I guess my general question is how long they are going to be gone?
MSW: That's more of a specific question...it depends on what unit they're in and what their mission is/every unit has a "justifier" that changes with what's going on...
RF: What I'm getting is that there is no mission
MSW: That's not true, there's a mission.RF: Well if there is, why are they sitting around bored all day and apparently getting little information about what is going on and what they are going to have to do
MSW: Well you know that probably means they have a reason for that...
RF: What would the reason be for them to sit around with no purpose?MSW: Probably they are resting up and recouperating for a mission, on a lower level, while the higher ups are getting things in order.
RF: Well if that's true why can't they rest up and recover here at home? Where their necessities are better...they sent them there so quickly without any planning...apparently the living conditions were better in Iraq.
MSW: That's true that the barracks and showers were better in Iraq but at least they're not blowing things up, getting shot at, having their buddies lose arms and legs and die...
RF: I understand that but these same people just got back from Iraq and then they're just going to have to go back soon enough...
MSW: I would tell you that there are certain things about soldiers...if a soldier's complaining that's good because that means that the chain of command is hearing this, and there are a couple of cliches that come up with soldiers: One, they're always complaining. Two, be careful for what you wish for because you might get it. I know right now a lot of men are having to volunteer to go back to Iraq early, and some are even being sent back early, so I can tell you that those men aren't going to be too happy...
RF: No they probably won't but at least in Iraq they are able to be proactive and do what they're there to do, rather than sit around all day and wonder what's going on.
MSW: I went to Iraq and I think if I were to go back, I'd be thinking about how I'd rather be back in NO in the relief effort cleaning up.
RF: But they're not cleaning up! They're just sitting around.
MSW: Well if that's the case I would tell your family member to voice his complaints or rather bring his observations to rear detachment in batallion HQ and say hey who is my point of contact...that's why our Army is so successful, we're continuously looking for ways to improve. What unit is he in?
RF: I'd rather not say...
MSW: Okay well I know a lot of them...I myself served with 1-8 Cav, and I know a bunch of guys in the 1-5...I know they're frustrated, I understand that it's hard for the family members. I do know that there are plans of returning some of them...I can't tell you when and who because it hasn't even been decided yet and I just can't tell you, but they did come in and tell us the other day that "Hey--some of them are going to come back." You know this is the first time we've ever had something this catastrophic happen and no one really knows how to react to it. Our inital surge was great, but now they're realizing that some of them were only a 7-10 day need and they can send some of them back...but they want to make sure they don't need them before they send them back, you know, how terrible would that be if they sent back 600-1000 soldiers and then they realized they needed them after all. Wouldn't that piss us off, to use that phrase?
MSW: But there are plans to send some of them back.
I feel like I'm making some progress. Maybe not exactly definitive answers but I at least kind of feel as though I'm doing something useful and helpful.
Until then, Operation Forward March is in full swing. If you are a (D) and feel as though you want a change in Texas government, please check out Chris Bell's website. It is rare that I feel strongly enough to endorse a politician, but I have always liked the guy from day one. www.chrisbell.com
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My first horse show I ever attended was when I was nine years old in July of 1993. I was gap-toothed and still so horse crazy that I woke up at 3:00 AM the day of the show and bugged my mom to braid my hair. The night before, I had been out grooming Opus, the pony that I was taking to the show the next day, to a shine. He looked like a pair of patent-leather saddle shoes. His black body was slick and his white socks were crisp without the slightest hint of dirt on them.
It was an overwhelming experience that day. I didn't quite grasp how horse shows worked, and neither of my parents knew anything. Most of what I accomplished was due in part to the trainers screaming at me and telling me what to do and when to do it. I learned that Saturday that horse shows were not something to be taken lightly and they were a lot of work, physically and mentally. I was such a perfectionist even at the age of nine and took myself so seriously. Rather than being thrilled about my two pink 5th place ribbons, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't win every class. Knowing what I now know, I probably was riding against quite a few other kids, and to have gotten a ribbon at all was quite a feat to be proud of.
Nevertheless, there is one picture from that day that still sits on my bathroom countertop, to remind me every morning of my youthful passion and of the late Opus, one of the most amazing creatures I have ever and will ever encounter. I am grinning from ear to ear and I cannot remember now whether the picture was taken before or after I competed. I am wearing my hunt-coat that I talked my dad into spending $100 on, the coat that my mom could not understand why on earth I would want to wear in the middle of July. Even back then for some reason I understood the importance of respect for my sport. I wasn't required to wear the coat, and I know that my trainer at the time didn't even tell me I had to wear one, but I went out and bought one anyway and refused to take it off in the 90-degree summer heat. Now I listen to 16 year old customers of mine who complain and gripe about wearing their coats even when it's not that hot and I wonder how they can't just realize that it is part of the tradition and beauty that is a horse show.
The facility in the picture is of Kings Bridge Farm, a beautiful and sprawling piece of land in Leander, Texas, which is just northwest of Austin. The land has been owned by the Hummel family for 23 years, and over time, turned into a great labor of love on the part of the people who work there. They have been holding horse shows there for years, and I went from a child to a teen to an adult at Kings Bridge horse shows.
Which brings me to today, Saturday, September 10th. I now go to the horse shows as an employee of Madrone Ranch Stables, where I work, and take a string of new little girls to show their horses. It was a beautiful time of morning, when the sun has just come up and the fields still have a dewy mist and there are still more horses roaming around than spectators. I had just walked over to one of the outside arenas to help my coworker when Steve Hummel, the second-generation Hummel who owns and operates Kings Bridge, came up to us. He told us that he had sold the property for a large sum of money and this would be the final show at the facility, before it was divided and cut up into lots for houses.
The news came as quite a shock, since the rumor mill hadn't made it's way around to us ahead of time. I had felt like shows would continue on at Kings Bridge for years. Suddenly, I turned towards Kings Bridge with new eyes, like when you've gotten used to seeing a familiar object and then one day you see it for the first time ever. I know I had done my fair share of complaining about the facility. There isn't enough shade for the horses tied to the trailers at shows, the footing can go from slick and muddy to hard as a rock in a matter of hours, and usually the shows ran behind schedule. But these were all complaints made under an assumption that Kings Bridge would be around forever. I started to see the history and beauty behind a barn that has seen so much and been such a part of so many people's lives.
It's bittersweet. Steve said he had bought a new piece of property just down the road that he intends to turn into a new barn, perhaps with better planning this time. I could be glad not to have to fight for a parking spot under the one and only tree in the parking lot anymore. And yet...
There is this grove of live oaks that are planted around the main barn that, in the picture of Opus and myself, we are standing in. The trees are still there, and probably most of them will still be there in the coming years. They are a beautiful canopy of leaves and branches that make up a deep shade and a cool reprive during the summer months. There is something about those trees that always will remind me of my first show, my excitement and love of my sport, my infatuation with my pony, and my eventual fate in life.
Me on Audrey Hepburn, showing 9 years later
Kings Bridge Farm, 2002
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