There will be an update on the girls coming up this week (they are both doing fabulously) but I have had so much more going on in my life this year that at the moment, I am simply not limiting the blog to only horses.
Lauren inspired this one. And like her, I'm going rogue, because this year has been about me going rogue in every way possible.
Three characters I identify with:
Neytiri is one of my favorite characters ever, and she shares the same traits I loved of Pocahontas, one of my favorite Disney characters as a child: empathy, her connection with Nature and animals, and her love of teaching what she knows.
Andrea Sachs was my idol when I decided to become a vet tech. I went through the same struggles she goes through while working for Miranda Priestly. She was a nerdy, shy, timid type that was afraid to speak her mind, that turned into a gorgeous, outspoken, intelligent woman that was unafraid of going for her dreams. I like to think that I am like that. Actually, there is proof that I am like that.
Things you (probably) don't know about me
I was seriously into fencing in college. My instructor was coach for the Puerto Rican team in the Panamerican Games, a world-class champion fencer himself. Basically the George Morris of fencing. During a scrimmage, I touched him with my weapon. As in, a points-earning touch.
NONE of his students had EVER been able to do that. This happened in front of the entire class. I gasped when it happened. Don Goyo paused, gave me a very subtle smile, and defeated me in one blow. Hahaha No surprise there! It was an event that was never repeated: he upped the ante from there on out when in practice combat with me. But I was not bad at this sport.
My weapon of choice: the saber. Why? Because it is the only weapon with which you can also strike sideways as well as touch with the tip of the weapon. Permissible contact areas were anything above the waist including the hands and face. And so it is the preferred weapon of men. I was the only girl in the class that chose it. And I kicked all the guys' butts. It shocked everyone because I was the quiet, shy, shapely girl in class with the glasses. I was a completely different person with that saber in hand. I was smaller and faster and had better balance than the guys and didn't give a hoot about getting struck with their weapons, which meant I went in for the kill. I would win before they knew what had hit them. For whatever reason the guys loved this. -_- My professor started talking about forming an intercollegiate fencing team, for which I was first in line as potential member, but it never happened. I looked into fencing as a sport outside of school but it was even more expensive than horses, so that's when my fencing career came to an end.
|Neither of these is me, but you can see that the lunging fencer is getting ready to strike with the length of his weapon's blade.|
I am an empath. Some of you may or may not have realized this from reading my veterinary posts, but I myself didn't recognize what exactly this meant until this past year, when I started working with the same group of people for 40 hours a week, vs a few hours per shift like I used to in ER and ICU-type work. This article changed my life: it explained everything. My social awkwardness (I prefer to listen before talking...and part of that is because I'm also getting a reading on new people. This used to take time when I was younger; it's more instant now, which makes conversations with strangers so much easier, though it depends on the person I'm interacting with), my discomfort around certain people and not others (I trust first impressions a LOT more now), the unique way in which music affects me (I intensely love or hate songs based on the way they make me feel. Black or white, no shades of gray), my need to go home to recharge because it is my "safe zone" (I'm often at home in silence. TV off unless Carlos is home. If I listen to something at home, it's music, but this most often happens while cooking or cleaning: while I'm active. I don't even like talking on the phone when I'm home), the fact that I could never engage in casual sex because it still involved an exchange of emotion that profoundly affected me, and my ability for feeling the "vibes" of places. People have always said I am too sensitive: I feel your emotions as if they were mine, but because I don't have telepathy to accompany it, I can't always tell if you're mad because of something I did or something else happening in your life. But because of this, I am incredibly sensitive to negative feelings: anger, sadness, bitterness, depression, envy, hatred, ill will. They affect me profoundly because at my base level, I'm normally a pretty cheerful person. But when a negative person stands next to me, it's as if they'd tossed a box of black ink into a pool of clear water. It literally taints whatever it is that I myself am feeling. I can shove it out if I can identify it appropriately, but it still contaminates what I feel. It's called being clairsentient and it is a BITCH, let me tell you. If I have to have a real, honest-to-God superpower, I'd rather it be telepathy or none at all. With telepathy you at least know the "why." When you can only feel emotion, it's like only being able to taste but not smell. Alone it is an incomplete sense because it relies so heavily on another for it to make sense.
I would accidentally freak the hell out of my coworkers when I would ask them, "What's going on?" when I felt that they were off without them giving any outward signs. It took a while before I realized that this is actually not normal. That my ability to read people's most subtle expressions and body language, the fact that I would react to attitudes communicated with gestures alone because I felt the emotion behind them that said gestures confirmed, was highly unusual. It works beautifully with animals because that's how they communicate 24/7, but most people rely so heavily on the spoken word for communicating that when you get someone that can see beyond the facade, it is downright unnerving to others.
Combine that with the eerie premonitions I periodically get, usually in the form of dreams in the third person where I am observing instead of participating, and you can understand why...well, why my Surgery coworkers didn't know exactly what to make of me. One day I scared the living daylights out of my doctor back then: we had this one dog whose surgery was going to be a complicated one and I had asked to run it because I really liked both the patient and the owner; we had clicked. I dreamed that he would not be having his surgery on the scheduled day because of something going on with his lungs. I was watching Dr. G looking at x-rays of his chest in the dream. It bothered me enough that the next morning I walked into the doctors' office to check in with Dr. G, "How is Night this morning?" He had been admitted the previous night so he could go to surgery first thing. "I dreamed his surgery was postponed because there's something going on with his lungs." I said it jokingly: the dog had a whole slew of health problems, which is why his surgery was such a big deal.
Dr. G had been typing away and he stopped to look at me, wide-eyed. "That's funny," he said, "because it might be cancelled. He's been coughing. I need you and Alexei to take x-rays of his chest this morning."
Night had pneumonia; the surgery was, indeed, postponed. Dr. G joked from thereon out that he would check in with me about patient status premonitions before scheduling their surgeries.
All of these things were so useful in ER and ICU-type work that they either didn't get noticed or simply didn't surprise anyone. Sixth senses are common in the medical field, especially in critical care scenarios: you either have a sixth sense or you develop it on the job if you care and do it for long enough. But in the veterinary ER, it often turned into knowing when an animal was going to die no matter what we did. And it was devastating. While having the sixth sense of an empath is still very useful in Surgery, my heightened awareness stood out like a beacon in the new setting. I have since gone back to being reserved and quiet, to simply observing but not sharing everything I perceive. I can dial it down to a degree, but this is sometimes easier said than done, especially with people that you unavoidably sync in with. A few weeks ago, I texted Jess at my old job, "What the HELL is going on over there???" I kept getting images of my ex-coworkers and this feeling of distress. It was making me crazy and interfering with my work and I said as much to Jess. She wasn't even working in Surgery that day, so I wasn't getting it from her. But she still knew what was up: they had euthanized each and every one of Dr. G's appointments that day. It had been one of the WORST days EVER in my old Surgery department...and I felt it from 50 MILES AWAY. I freaked the hell out of Jess. But you can imagine how powerful it is when in close quarters with people, that I can still feel emotion from that type of distance. It's not me being overly sensitive: I just can't help it, because when dialed in, emotions are a solid, tangible thing for me, just like colors are a tangible, measurable thing for the person that has vision. You can't unsee colors when you have vision. And just like you can't explain colors to a person that was born blind, I can't explain what an onslaught of emotion feels like. I can control its...volume, if you will, but just like you can't select for what you want to hear on TV, I can't always control what I feel and what I don't, or what source I want to dial into. Some people just force themselves on you unknowingly. It's fascinating the way people emit emotion...some people contain it so well that you only know what they are feeling by tuning into their body language and expressions as well, while others reek emotion like a smell and color the entire room around them with it. I work with a doctor that is this way...and I get a huge kick out of playing with music in the OR and feeling how it affects him. When I hit the nail on the head in terms of what music he clicks with in the moment, it is incredibly rewarding because the entire environment changes as he relaxes. A lot of people emit emotion in tiny, rapid bursts that change before you can identify what they're feeling, which is similar to how a lot of animals feel...you find yourself imperceptibly reacting to what they're emitting before you can translate it in your head. Others emit emotion in sonic booms of tangled, garbled feeling and then hide behind a solid wall when you try to reach out to them to decipher/unravel what you're feeling. Others have incredibly strong feelings that they try to contain, and I can feel them bubbling under the surface. Like water in a covered pot, with the steam building up just ready to explode. This is terrifying by the way. My Russian ex-coworker did this all the time, and it was the main cause of arguments. "WHAT is WRONG with you???" I'd ask him when I couldn't take it anymore...because I couldn't just leave the workspace. He was incredibly sensitive to energy from others himself, which is what facilitated being able to work with him without need of talking about 75% of the time, but he was also terrible to work with because he thought he had a wall around himself...yet I could feel everything he felt: pain, frustration, anger, if he was sick, even as he tried futilely to contain it all...I felt it all because he had absolutely no control of his feelings, he projected it all outwards yet he refused to acknowledge any of it because Russian men are taught that emotion/feelings = weakness. It was the strangest relationship I've ever had with anyone, coworker or otherwise, because the fact that I could read him with transparency meant that, while he infuriated me more than anyone I have ever met because of the way he presented himself vs the way he really was, I also automatically trusted him implicitly, even when the circumstances that evolved around him were the reason for my leaving that job. The core of himself that he tried so hard to hide was solid, and that's what I saw. But he wrecked chaos in that department with his vortex of energy and emotion, with the colliding forces within himself that he could not deal with, creating a cascade of discord that I simply could not handle, precisely because I am an empath. I cannot, cannot, CANNOT stand drama in the workplace because I feel it so strongly, and I will do almost anything to keep the peace. When there was no chance of salvaging that, I left. The thing is, I finally figured out what was "wrong" with me because of him.
I can tell when a person is lying because of the emotion I feel coming off of them, and it is disturbing and distressing for both the person that is trying to hide something from me unsuccessfully and for me that knows they are hiding something but doesn't know WHAT: because no telepathy, remember? (Carlos gave up on lying to me our first year together. He knows it is impossible. I'd catch him in the act outright or get a premonition. He is a highly sensitive person himself and he knows he married someone who is fairly...unusual. The wonderful thing about him is that he has never been surprised about the strangeness that is my everyday life, that affects him too because he is a part of it.) Emotion is like a stain whereas telepathy is a clear picture. It's like comparing a Rorschach blot to an illustration.
How do I function in daily life? It's easier when I'm not directly interacting with people around me. I often avoid eye contact in public situations: the grocery store, the gym, crowds at the mall. In these situations, I function only off of my awareness. I get frustrated when I have to make eye contact because there is an instant connection when I do. I used to be the kind of person that crazy people would cross the street to come interact with because they sensed that connection if I made the mistake of looking them in the eye. If I have company, it's easier because I just dial into the person next to me and it dulls out what I'm getting from my surroundings. It's still there, though: all I have to do is re-focus for a second on my surroundings to sense danger, happiness, sadness, etc.
And this is why I love working with animals and why my entire life I have found peace around them: because animals don't try to hide what they're feeling. They feel, they communicate, and they just...ARE. They don't lie. They will hide pain from the people they love or if they feel endangered, but you can still see it if you know how to look.
If you've never heard of empaths, go read the article. It is very, very much a play-by-play of my personality, my weirdness, why I tick the way I do, the things that set me off and the things that give me peace, my love for underdogs in both the human and animal form (I own a tripod cat! I own a horse that would have died if I hadn't paid the $1 for her. I often sought out those that were rejected by the crowds as my personal friends, from preschool all the way through high school) and just about everything else. I am most of the things the article discusses.
I cannot stand watching the news. This also has to do with the above. I know there is cruelty in the world. I feel it. I cannot abide seeing it. I get very overwhelmed by people on Facebook that constantly post all of the negative things that happen in the world, and have actually cleared my feed of this type of person/post. The only times I more or less keep an eye on current events are when I'm doing cardio machines at the gym because there are two TVs with CNN in the line-up of televisions in front of this section. My hatred for the news is so strong, that I actually prefer to focus on strength training when I'm working out precisely because I can avoid the TVs. This is why running OUTSIDE this past summer was so important for me: the news of a certain male presidential candidate and the incredible cruelty, evil and violence he inspires; everything that is currently wrong with the US right now and with my home island (which none of you know about, and it will get a billion times worse if said presidential candidate wins. I don't give a single flying fuck about the other candidate's e-mail fiasco. That is nothing compared to the evil the one candidate represents); current events around the world, all of that, could be avoided by me being OUTSIDE. Hence why my injury was so devastating. It makes me absolutely freaking insane that so many white people that I originally respected and thought were intelligent, are so immensely self-centered that they can't see how that one person's success will affect the 40+% of this country's population that are non-white, the 25% that are gay, the 21% for whom English isn't their first language...I could go on and on and on. Let's just say that we have reached the point where Carlos and I will walk into some places speaking in English to one another (we speak Spanish at home), because we feel that threatened. Whoa did I run off-topic there and straight into politics, but I AM NOT SORRY.
I have loved cats even longer than horses. I first decided I wanted a cat when I was 6 years old. I went horse crazy at age 10. But I grew up around dogs. We always had dogs. My parents' Dobies and Keeshond argued over who would get to guard my crib at night and I would romp around with them on four legs as a kid. I loved The Jungle Book because I wanted to be Mowgli with our dogs. Did you know that cats and horses have more in common at the cellular level than cats and dogs, and dogs and horses? Dogs are actually more similar to us humans at the cellular level. Their blood is very similar to ours. And maybe that is why (in general) cats and horses mirror us, vs dogs (in general) try to fix us. We'll never know.
|This was me with our dogs!!|
I am a coffee snob. Not to the level that some people out there are with their French presses and cold brews, but I am picky about what I like. Latin coffee is nuclear in potency and is most often brewed as something very close to espresso, but with a smoother taste. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to Miami, walk into any of the bakeries with a Spanish sign outside, and order espresso. You'll understand then. I drink coffee that can wake up the dead that needs to be lightened with milk because creamer won't do it. That is what I make at home. I have a moka pot, aka 'greca" in Spanish: this is how most Cubans and Puerto Ricans brew their coffee. American coffee actually upsets my stomach. It will clear the early morning fog in my head, but I pay a price for it, which is sad because it is so much cheaper than asking for lattes all the time. :) Maryland has been nice because we can find places that make decent coffee. I keep a running list of these places for when the Cuban in-laws come to visit, because Carlos's dad is even more of a coffee snob than I am and he insists the average American restaurant is incapable of brewing good coffee. So far, he has been impressed with my choices, and thus Maryland! ;) So when I tell you guys that a place has amazing coffee, it's because the coffee really is out of this world...
I'm naturally a morning person and am most productive before 11:00 am. When I need to get stuff done, I will wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 am. Those are my "witching hours." ;)
I chose to do homeschooling for my senior year in high school because I wanted to focus on my riding career. I had access to a trainer that genuinely believed I had Olympic potential in showjumping and he was willing to see me through it. I'd wake up at 5:00 am, be done with schoolwork by 10:00 am (see above!) and then go to the barn to spend the afternoon working my butt off riding multiple horses in exchange for lessons. And then that trainer moved to the US and there went that dream. But it was really cool to be homeschooled because that is how I ended up having enough time to participate in the Sea Explorers...which is how everything with Carlos started. But the point is: that is how important horses were to me.
My mom is Puerto Rican and my dad is Cuban. My family on my father's side have been US citizens since the 1960's. My family on my mother's side have been US citizens since 1898 when Puerto Rico became a US territory. My first ancestor in the Americas arrived on the island from Spain in the 1500s: he was a Spanish engineer commissioned by Sir Francis Drake to build a bridge in Catano, the main industrial city on the island. The bridge still stands close to 500 years later, though it has long been in disuse. My family owned most of what is the San Juan metropolitan area at one point; there are streets and neighborhoods named after my ancestors. I would be Puerto Rican even if I had been born on the moon.
That is a direct quote from the song, "Boricua en la Luna" by the Puerto Rican band Fiel a la Vega
I tried starving myself to death in high school because I had such a horrible body image. And almost succeeded. I had a true, obsessive love-hate relationship with food: what I could eat, what I couldn't eat, how much I could eat. I would dream about chocolate, cake, donuts, bread, because I wouldn't allow myself to eat any of those while awake. I could only eat 500 calories a day and I freaked if I consumed more than 3 grams of fat a day. Currently, I wear size 8 jeans. I weigh 140 lbs, have a 36" chest, 28" waist and 39" hips (#latinaproblems). At my thinnest when I was 17, I wore size 16 children's pants and had whittled myself down from a pudgy 160 lbs to just under 100 lbs...over a 6 month period. You could count every rib, every vertebra. There are no photos of that time. Horses saved my life. And my mom, because she was the one that signed me up for lessons again. When threats to hospitalize me didn't work, she took me to the barn with the trainer that changed my life and told me she would pay for my lessons on one condition: that I eat. If I didn't eat, I couldn't ride. I started eating again when I realized that I really had no strength with which to control a horse over fences if I didn't shove food in my face. And that's how I learned about sports nutrition, which is something that still fascinates me. And how I eventually started working out regularly, not in an effort to vanish into thin air, but in an effort to make myself harder, better, faster, stronger... I used to MAJORLY suck at gym class. The first time I ran a mile I couldn't believe it. The sad thing was that that didn't happen until I was in my 20s! And so running has always been the back-up sport when I didn't have the time for riding or surfing. Strength training is my other big thing. I love the way working out makes me feel. I love that residual muscle soreness you get after a solid workout because it reminds me that I worked my body hard, that said body took me to greater lengths than the day before. I love food and I have spells of eating not-so-healthy, but for the most part, we only keep a variety of healthy food in the house (lean meat, chicken, tons of fruits and veggies facilitated by my obsession with Wegmans, Ezekiel bread, yogurt, beans, root veggies like potatoes and yams, interesting grains like quinoa and farro, etc). If we want ice cream or chocolate, we have to drive out to get it. Sometimes we decide it's too much trouble, and others it ends up turning into an ice cream outing followed by dancing under a bridge. ;) But the point is: if I'm working out, I love my body more. And it has taken a lifetime to learn to focus on what I like when I look in the mirror (the ridge of ab muscle above my hip bones, the definition in my shoulders, the veins in my arms that show more as my body fat percentage drops), instead of all the things that could be improved (my belly pooch that has never, ever gone away, no matter how thin I am; the parts that will always jiggle: butt, thighs.)
I love most of the animals everyone else finds gross: reptiles, including lizards and snakes, and pretty much every imaginable insect. I have owned green iguanas and garter snakes and always wanted a ball python. I love the sleek smoothness of their scales. I used to catch lizards on the island, keep them for a few days, and then set them free again. There is a photo somewhere of me when I was like 4 years old, wearing this adorable frilly dress with this look of utmost joy and fascination on my face as I look down at what I'm holding in my hands: a lizard! :D I had spotted mice and at one point got into breeding exotic-colored gerbils. I had a dead butterfly collection when I was little. I love spiders and refuse to kill them. My favorite part of tubing on the Potomac in the summer is that if you hold still, hordes of dragonflies will land on you and hang out. My one phobia: cockroaches. I cannot abide roaches.
My favorite art material to work with is colored pencil. Always has been. And I keep them in a cigar box. Actually...I keep most of my art materials in cigar boxes of varying sizes. Fun fact: no one in my family smokes cigars, not even myself! But we keep cigar boxes inherited from friends for storing; my mom and aunts do the same thing. Cigar boxes are beautiful, functional, made of real wood, and thus will last forever!
I was a diehard tomboy as a kid. I was seriously upset when I grew boobs and couldn't walk around the house anymore in pants and no shirt. And then I discovered sports bras! It is not uncommon to find me in shorts and a sport bra hanging out at home, and when we lived in South FL a favorite outfit was jeans and a bikini top.
One stormy night back when we lived in Tampa, Carlos and I stripped and ran naked down the beach at 2:00 am.
I once spent a hurricane in an outdoor hot tub. At least it had a roof over it...
I love lightning. I've spent thunderstorms trying to nail a photo of the lightning. Still haven't succeeded.
My pinky toes barely have nails. I got that from my dad. He got surgery to correct his. I was livid when he told me.
I used to be terrified of galloping in wide open spaces.
I like round mirrors because they resemble scrying glasses. But there is only one round mirror in our house. It is above my desk.
I hate driving in rain.
The only thing I've ever collected were Cheval Ponies. I have 8 of them. You can have 20 of them in the same pose and same color, and each one is going to be 100% unique: they were each hand-made in South Africa. I stopped collecting them when I stopped working at the tack shop. Precisely because each one is so unique, I liked to choose them in person. They're very difficult to find nowadays; I don't think they are made anymore. When we've moved, they have always been very carefully wrapped and packaged, set aside from all the other boxes; only I am allowed to touch the boxes that contain them, and they travel with me. They are one of my most cherished non-living possessions because there are no others like them in the world.
|These two are my absolute faves.|
Our apartment is full of Puerto Rican art. Every wall. What doesn't have art, has photos taken by me of some of my favorite places on the island.
|A sampler here. The one on the left is a view of La Capilla del Cristo in Old San Juan. (And you should go to that link and read the story behind that little church. There's a whole legend behind it.) The one on the bottom right is a screenprint of the mausoleum in the Old San Juan cemetery. And the little screenprint on the top right is by my Aunt Mary, of the ridgeline on the east side of our house on the island. The sun rose behind those trees every morning.|
My favorite TV show is Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. I love that man, the way he sees the world, and the way he presents it.
The only thing I miss about not having cable is HGTV. I used to be able to watch that channel all day, every day.
When I was 6 years old, I seriously wanted to be a unicorn when I grew up.
|The Last Unicorn was a favorite movie for a while there, too.|
I can still thing the song "I'm Alive" from the movie.
And now you can too! The song is by America and is hauntingly beautiful. It still gives me goosebumps.
And if I have to grow old, I want to be like this lady.