"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Flying, Horses and the State of the Now

I trot Lily halfway down the path and bring her to a halt.

"Are we galloping back home?" she asks excitedly, bouncing around expectantly. She knows I am about to unleash her.

"No, we don't gallop back home," I say to her, swinging her around in the opposite direction. "We're galloping this way."

She waits expectantly, rocking her weight onto her hind legs with no cue from me.

All it takes is one cluck and we surge forward together. This time it is not a dream, it is real, and of course Carlos is there to document it with photos.

Afterwards Lily prances proudly back to the barn.

Why? Because it was fun. We did 5 miles in an hour and a half, with equal parts trotting and meandering while just talking and catching up, with a couple of canters/gallops thrown in.

And so this has been life lately. We have been riding, but not very frequently. There was one long ride at North Tract that I wanted to write about, but time went by and I didn't get around to it.

I think we did 12 miles this day?
There was another ride at Little Bennett that I also meant to write about, but the draft has all of one sentence.

Pretty sure we did 10 miles on this day.
I don't care how long we went. Because we had fun.

There was the Fire in Ice Festival in downtown Frederick that Carlos and I went to with Dom & Mike, Shanna, Jess, and Meggan. Dom wrote about it here, and I'm going to let hers be the only version of the story on the internet. She did a great write-up. Though after seeing the comments on her post, I want to clarify: Frederick is not a big city! It might be 50 miles from DC but it is considered a country town. Locals are called "Frednecks" for a reason. It gets packed all of once a year: for Fire in Ice! The population is all of 68,000 residents for the "city" area, as of this year. By comparison, my family's country-ish hometown of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, has 97,000. Hence why I laugh when people call Frederick a "big city." Oh man, it is not. DC has a population of 560,000. :)

Ice queens. That's Dom in the blue jacket, Jess in the purple argyle hat, Meggan with the fuschia scarf, and yours truly in the dark jacket with the fuzzy hood.
Meggan OWNED that throne! Hers was my favorite photo of this series!

A whiskey toast between Carlos and Shanna from the free tasting being offered at one of the local refinery booths!
People always make assumptions about two girls that always hang out together, so let's just play along with those assumptions because why not.
I TOTALLY photobombed this one with Jess and Meggan.
Too much fun in the bathroom at Starbucks.
Don't ask. Lol
Carlos and I kissing over the Lady & the Tramp ice sculpture later that night.
We were going to go to the Blackwater Swamp Stomp in Virginia the first weekend of March, so I could do the 50 miler with Gracie, but we scratched. With the impending ACA repeal with nothing else to take its place, all of our region's hospitals are cutting back on their staff and on their staff's hours. Carlos was laid off from his full-time job and currently has two part-times with the most unpredictable schedules. One of them keeps sending him home early or telling him he can come in later in the day. He works with other agency and travel nurses that bounce around the different hospitals in the VA/MD/DC area, and it is the same situation everywhere. Veterinary hospitals have been cutting back on hours too. So finances have been tight and stress has been high. Carlos continues to look for a full-time job but we are currently going into month 3 of his search.

We are both US citizens: I was born here on the mainland. (Thank you Dad for being an Army Colonel, which is how we came to be stationed in Oklahoma at the time of my birth. And thank you Juan Torrech for leaving Spain for the New World when Sir Francis Drake commissioned you in the late 1500s to come design and build that bridge in Puerto Rico...My mother's family has lived in the Americas for five centuries.)

Despite Carlos being born in PR, neither him nor I are immigrants. We are as immigrant as Hawaiians moving to the mainland. Which is Not Immigrant, by the way. Now tell that to the average American that assumes all Hispanics share the same traditions with Mexicans. (No, Puerto Ricans don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo...neither do Guatemalans, Argentineans, Brazilians, Colombians, Venezuelans, Cubans, Dominicans...I can go on.) Having been lumped in with Hispanic immigrant groups time and time again, and having had to prove my citizenship before thanks to my last name and an initial work history that took place in Puerto Rico, my fears over racial profiling under the new administration are actually very valid. Because it's already happened in the past, under Dubya, who was nowhere near as...special...as 45. Back we go to pretending we aren't Hispanic, to speaking only English in public.

Do you know what that feels like? Especially when you were born here...It makes me furiously, rabidly angry that last year I finally felt like I could be outwardly as Latina as I wanted to be, and now here we are again, back to hiding it as desperately as possible so as not to stand out. Do you know what it feels like to be hated by an establishment because you are singled out as an "other" because of your cultural heritage, despite being from here?

So right now we are surviving. The gym has taken priority over riding because it's something I can do every day, rain or shine. The transformation continues and that is motivating in and of itself.

Sissy squats with a 45 lb plate
This..."mierda cabrona" as I call it in Spanish...is Jacob's Ladder. It is a piece of torture with whom I have a love/hate relationship. If you can do 4 minutes on this thing, you're doing fantastic, and I really do mean that.
On this day I was aiming for 12 minutes. Carlos gets a huge kick out of watching me struggle at the gym, hence the snarl.  Sidenote: 12 minutes accomplished.

Flipping tires with Carlos during a session with Tony.
Yup, try not to die..
Leg day; working on deadlifts.
In Maryland we have had some weird, unseasonably warm days, followed by more seasonable cold days. There has been so much rain that trail riding has been downright treacherous 3/4 of the time because the clay footing is so slippery. Everything is whacked. The other day I saw a caterpillar at the barn, our seasonal allergies have been acting up, the grass keeps trying to get greener and the horses keep trying to eat it, and as you can see in the top photos, I rode outdoors in a tank top. Then we'll have a random freeze and I'll be back to throwing midweights on the girls and giving them electrolyte mashes because 50-degree drops overnight are a recipe for colic.

The caterpillar.
Dressagey ride on Lily. Yes I have piano hands. Whatever.
From a day that was warm enough to ride both girls. In a tank top.
I love this photo. Bareback ride on Gracie in the barn parking lot. Taken by Carlos, of course.
Bareback ride at sunset before heading out to one of our favorite bars.
Shanna goofing around with Gracie: she was trying to channel the mare's inner diva.  Hence the hand on the hip!
I hadn't laughed this hard in a while. 
Jumping over a fallen log on trail. My position isn't stellar but I don't care. Again: we were having fun.
Also: tank top in February.

I think my leg is commendable in this photo given that I'm in a dressage saddle with giant knee blocks.

Shanna. We had so much fun on this day.

From a snowy ride with Shanna at the end of January.
Ever since Astarte passed away last July, Aengus has taken his role as My #1 Cat very seriously. He assigned this role to himself the day he decided I was his person, not Carlos (he was originally supposed to be Carlos's kitty.) Astarte is irreplaceable, but Aengus is literally something else. He has an incredible knack for knowing when I'm upset. I'll find him sitting next to me, watching me closely. I'll look down at him and he'll chirp, "Are you okay? Can I help you?" "Yes you can. Come here so I can love on you," and he'll jump onto my lap, where he will chirp and purr and rub against my face until I'm giggling.

He is named after the Celtic god of love. He is working hard at living up to his name.

I adore this dork. He is my dork and there is no other like him.
This is how I get woken up in the mornings. With a back massage, face rubs, chirps, and requests for pets.
And then there is the eternally squishy Zombie Cat. Who would have thought that an undead cat would love to be loved this much?

My living plushie
He was quite literally grooming my hair.
There are many days when my emotions flip back and forth between anger and fear, with some moments of brilliant happiness splattered throughout.

The song is Ed Sheeran's "The Shape of You." 
We had a lot of fun rehearsing this one in advance for once.

From a day I was able to run outside in a tank top.
We love this town so much.
We wanted to set roots here so very badly, and now we're slowly ripping those roots back out one by one.
We are so tired of being nomads.
I am grieving. I just want the moments of happiness back for good again. I want to feel welcome and safe again. I want to be able to be us in public without fear of someone going, "Hey, they speak Spanish! They might be illegal aliens!" and hoping that pulling out passports is enough proof of our citizenship.


  1. Thank you for giving us these glimpses into your life. <3

  2. My heart hurts for you. Sending you positive wishes.

  3. You are a total badassery woman!! The pics are really awesome.

    We will get through this. <3

  4. That picture of Zombie grooming your hair <3 I think a lot of folks feel the same way you do about the state of our country atm, just remember we're all in this together. Enjoy the happy moments to the fullest and keep on riding!

  5. Love the photos of you galloping on the road. I can only imagine how it feels for you both in the new reality. We are always looking for nurses here in Canada....

    1. Believe me, it's been discussed and it continues to come up! ;) I know some Canadians aren't fond of Trudeau but the more we hear about him in the US, the more we all fall in love with him!

  6. This makes me so sad. #1 Because I was hoping to finally meet you at Blackwater Swamp Stomp. And #2 because I can empathize with you and what you are going through. We will endure, somehow, some way.

    1. #1 I was excited about finally meeting you at BSS too! Sometimes adulting really sucks. :( #2 I think about you a lot in regards to this too.

      Bestest of luck this coming weekend! I hope you have an amazing time at the ride!

  7. *hugs* I have so many thoughts, but I don't have the strength to go through them all. So... just... *hugs*

  8. Do not let your heart hurt too much, this shall pass.
    Let's hope it passes sooner rather than later.

    1. <3
      "Let's hope it passes sooner rather than later": Amen to that.