Divergent: Paper or Plastic?

I have been on Goodreads.com a lot the past week because my righteous spectacular magnanimous kindred spirit friend type person, Karen Nelson, has started a new book club group that I am pretty excited about. But this post is not about that.

It’s about me perusing Goodreads and checking out the Goodreads 2011 Book of the Year Winner: Divergent by Veronica Roth. I read the synopsis and guess what? It’s Dystopian YA and even though there is only one right now, the next book is due out next Spring. Could this be the next Hunger Games trilogy I’ve been searching for? I went onto Amazon and read the first two and a half chapters and I dare say IT IS!!! YAY!Rapture! Joy! Expectation!

Here is the book description:

Series: Divergent | Publication Date: May 3, 2011
One choice can transform you. Pass initiation. Do not fail! Thrilling urban dystopian fiction debut from exciting young author. In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) — each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a “perfect society.” At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly “perfect society.” To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.

If you are intrigued, here’s a link to the Amazon page for the book so you too can read the first few chapters and possibly find yourself a new book obsession just as I have:  http://www.amazon.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/dp/0062024027

Also, here’s a link to Veronica Roth’s personal blog,  veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/

Check out her November 23rd, 2011 post, “The Break Up Letter”, written to her Macbook Air, I laughed out loud about 12 times on that one.

By the way, a little more snooping around to find the pictures to put on this post and I discovered a rumor that she already has a movie deal on this first book in the trilogy. Double awesome.

SO, my real question is this: Now that I am definitely going to buy this book should I A.) Kill a tree and feel the surge of enjoyment by splurging on the Hardback copy or B) Give the greedy pigs at Amazon my money so I can download it instantly to my new (still free) 3rd Gen Kindle? BTW, if I buy the Kindle copy, I can only lend it out ONCE. How I do love to hate you Kindle.

What do YOU think? Shall I kill a tree or support Greed?

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Riding a Horse Again: Fat, Nervous and Short!

The title of today’s post isn’t about the miniature horses in the photo but more accurately is meant to sum up how I felt after my adult beginner horse class on Saturday. It was 4 hours, only about an hour and a half of that was spent actually on the horse, but I still felt sore EVERYWHERE. I forgot how many little random muscles you use when riding horses… and now, I remember! OH YES! I remember. I would have written about this sooner but I had major soreness and cat drama issues (One of mine cost me a small fortune in emergency vet bills and a litter of kittens is taking over my game room; their mother, our feral mommy cat, is trapped in a cage outside in my back yard waiting for her SAAF spay appointment so she will stop getting knocked up!! Stupid TRAMP! Blarg!!!). SO, without further ado…

Here is the website and description for the class at Valley Water Mill Park Equestrian Center here in Springfield, MO:

http://parkboard.org/info/city_parks/vwmec/index.htm

Adult Horse S.H.O.E. Program: This class is designed specifically for the adult who always wanted a horse or just wants to get back into something they did in their youth.  This program will teach the basics of all-around horsemanship including safety, grooming, handling, tacking, and riding techniques.  Each student will have their own horse.  Come join the fun and learn how to care for, ride, and simply enjoy the world of horses!  Each class is limited to 6 students.
Valley Water Mill Park Equestrian Center  833-3291 or 833-9673
Age:     18 years and older
Date:    Saturday, , August 20
Time:    August class: 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Fee:      $40 per adult/per class

I arrived about 15 minutes early after taking in some medication for my high dollar cat at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic on Glenstone. I talked to Jen, our instructor, for a few minutes before the couple that was taking the class with me showed up. It was their 36th wedding anniversary and their daughter had given them the lessons as an anniversary gift. They seemed somewhat less than amused but please NOTE: I would ecstatic to have ANYTHING like this for an anniversary present. Seriously, Matt and I were jealous. This is a very cool gift. There were only 3 participants in this class. We walked down to the barn and the first hour and a half were spent touring the facilities and explaining all the different stations in the barn and their functions. Here are some things I learned during that time:

~You can store grain/feed for horses in broken down freezers. No, Really! You can find them for nothing (because why else would someone want to keep a broken deep freeze). Mice can’t get into them and they keep the feed sealed up air tight so it lasts longer. I thought this was very efficient. Jen, the life long horse woman, came from California and said she first learned about this here in MO. In CA they had used big plastic tubs, which are also good to use if you can’t score a broken deep freeze.

~I learned about the multiple types of bits, bridles, and saddles, and what the purposes are for each of the different kinds. This picture is of their tack room. There was a lot more to the room but this is the only picture I took of it. I was anxious to ride, please forgive me. There were closets and a room designated for a vet, cleaning supplies, etc… as well. Jen said she was very particular about the equipment and nothing could be dragging the floor.

~Something I found pretty impressive were incredibly specific notes and instructions written on a white board in the vet room. This room is not really used expressly for vets, the stable hands use it most of all. The notes were regarding two of the horses who had a sore here or there. There were diagrams as to where the sores were and what treatment they were to apply and directions that they weren’t to be ridden for X amount of time. I thought this attention to detail was pretty amazing. That’s the difference in quality you get from a well managed facility as opposed to a low cost, low maintenance operation. These horses are pretty lucky.

~Jen said they don’t keep the horses in the stalls much, even though the barn and stalls are fantastic there, because the horses need more diverse diets (from grass feeding) and long periods of exercise as well as sunlight. I think she said they graze for approximately 20 hours a day. A horse left in a stall would not be as healthy as these were, for obvious reasons. They grain them once (maybe twice, can’t remember) a day to fill in the nutritional gaps left over from the pasture feeding. Each horse gets one scoop of grain unless they have issues with easy weight gain, in which they get half a scoop. There again, her attention to detail impressed me. Speaking of feeding, all seven horses were brought in and fed by one of the paid hands, a 19 year old pre-med student who you will see in the videos later. She was pretty impressive, she helped me clean my horse’s hooves out!

 

Jen (pictured here) used my chosen horse, a black Quarter horse named Sully who was approximately 16 hands (maybe 15, again, can’t quite remember), to show us how to put on a halter. She showed us two ways: one for regular sized people (I’m assuming anything over 5’7 would work on this one) and then one for short people. I, of course, standing all of 5’4, had to use the second one. This was a piece of cake. Jen taught me the proper way to hold his lead rope, which frowned upon wrapping the rope around your fingers. I had the lead portion of the rope in my right hand and a sort of upside down U in my left hand… no coiling it around my fingers. She kept having to remind all of us of this rule. It is such a natural tendency to want to wrap it around your fingers, it is also a good way to lose some fingers. Live and learn I guess!

We had to do all the day’s lesson in the indoor riding arena because it was raining and thundering pretty crazy like. Here are all the horses that were used: The grey and white one is Levi and belongs to Sheriff Arnott, it looks like a silver dapple but is actually registered as a blue roan due to the darkness of its color when it was younger; Skipper is the red dunn on the end and the most good natured, get up and go, non-lazy of the three; Sully is the black one, and he was not feeling his oats this morning. He did not want to be ridden that day. I’m sure my awkwardness and the fact that I should be on a hobbitt sized horse instead of him wasn’t helping much. Just a NOTE: I have videos of a lot of this stuff but am having trouble posting them due to a learning curve with YouTube. I will get them on though and eventually link to them in this article. Patience, my precious, it must have patience with us!

Next we learned how to brush and groom the horses, each one of us being given a bucket with our horse’s name on it. We used the curry brush the most, a small, rubber knobby looking thing that strapped to my hand, to rub in circular motions which all the horses seemed to adore to the point of falling asleep. Then we used a bristle brush to get out the dust and to clean the curry comb between portions of brushing. After that there were the mane and tail, which we used normal hair combs on, and then cleaning out the hooves which required this giant scarey tooth brush looking thing with v shaped metal hook on the back of it for getting out huge clumps of dirt and rocks. Apparently horses can feel almost nothing inside the bottom of their hooves because I pulled a big rock out of one of Sully’s.

Doing the front legs wasn’t a big deal, I really enjoyed it actually, but doing the back legs frightened me. I have been kicked in the chest by a horse before (many years ago and YES, I was being an idiot when it happened). In this instance, I wasn’t looking forward to stumbling and being kicked in the head too. This is where the red-haired 19 year old helper came in and kept trying to get me not to be so nervous. I wasn’t really nervous about much of anything after the back hooves were done. To her I have an apology to make for not remembering her name.  Honey, if you see this, I assure you, I will find out your name and insert it at a later date because you deserve it! You helped me so much!

After that we bridled our horses and then put on the blanket and saddle. Then came time to actually get on. There was a step to help us get on. I was waiting for it patiently when Jen looks at me and says something to the effect of “What are you waiting for?” I said “Um… hello! I’m waiting for the step!” She looked at me and laughed. “You used to own a horse, I know you can get up there on your own. Did you even try?” I looked at her scornfully “No! Are you kidding me? I’m too short and too fat!” She laughed and goaded me into trying, so I did, and now, after the humiliation of not being able to pull my short fat butt up onto that horse, I have a nice horribly painful pulled muscle in the back of my left thigh as reward for my effort. Harumph! All jokes aside, Jen was a great teacher, I appreciated how down to earth she was. It made me feel like I was around my brother in law again, and that was one of the things I had hoped to gain from this experience. I can’t wait to hang out with her again when I go along to watch my sister to take the class in October.

Sully was very grumpy about being forced to saddle up and carry my big butt but in all fairness, I don’t think he would’ve wanted a skinny butt either. He tried to nibble on me and nip at me a couple times out of grumpiness for which he got swatted by the younger red haired trainer chick. I learned the difference between direct reigning and neck reigning. I tried to neck reign him only, because it is gentler, but he kept turning around and going where I didn’t want him to go, which was always back in the direction of the entry gate.

I felt like I was being too forceful at times, yanking him this way and that, forcing him to do a complete 180 to the other end of the aren when he pulled around to go back to the gate. When I asked Jen if I was being too mean to him she replied “NO, you need to be much meaner than that, Don’t let him lead you, You lead HIM. If he goes somewhere you didn’t tell him to go, you need to correct him. Show him who is in control.” So, I did as she said. Again, and again, and again. We did this test where we walked over weird things like plastic tarps and pool noodles and play mats, an exercise designed to show the horse that even though you are making him walk over things he would normally avoid, he can trust you to lead him safely. Compared to the other two, I thought Sully and I did pretty well.

Next we practiced weaving through cones in a serpentine pattern; He did well when facing the gate but when I asked him to turn around and go back toward the other end of the arena, he kept trying to turn around and go the other way on me, so again, I had to direct reign him and force him to turn back around away from the gate. Once I made him walk to the end and then turn around and asked him to speed up and he was so looking forward to getting back to the gate that he cantered a bit; it was nice to canter again, even if it was just for 3 seconds. I wanted to do that more after that. He did NOT.

After that we played with giant inflatable soccer balls. The goal was to make the horse push the ball in between these cones that were set up as the goal. It was fun, and I think we did well on that too. Jen accused me of trying to steal the show once, in a playful manner, and it made me laugh because I knew she was just trying to make me feel I was doing well. I wish we had gotten to ride outside. I hate that it rained. Playing soccer was pretty awesome though.

After about an hour and a half we walked them back to the barn, took off their saddles and bridles and brushed them again to check for anything that may have caused a saddle sore while we were riding. Getting out of the saddle was a shocking experience. I was immediately sore. I voiced that to Jen and she just kinda laughed and said “Really? That soon?” Yes, Jen, Really, that soon! That’s what happens when you sit in an office chair day in and day out for years. I need to start walking and doing my lunges and squats again. I feel Pathetic.

So all in all, I had a pretty great time. I wish I had taken the class with some friends or something though. I guess I am going to start taking riding lessons once or twice a month if I can afford it. I want to get better in the saddle and better at saddling and bridling so when I do eventually buy a horse, I will be more confident than I was last Saturday. Ultimately I am looking for someone who would let me ride their horses but I know that’s pretty difficult to find these days, especially since I know so few people with horses. Maybe one day, I guess. One day.

I would definitely suggest this class to anyone. The people at this facility are friendly and I look forward to talking with them again during heather’s lessons next month! If you have a horse, I hear this facility also has some pilates on horseback classes that will blow your mind! I am jealous that I don’t have my own horse to be able to take this class, but again, maybe some day. 🙂 Please comment and tell me about YOUR horseback riding experiences!!!

Getting Back in the Saddle

I haven’t ridden a horse since I was about 16. 13 long years have passed. I’m a desk jockey now, 50 lbs overweight from inactivity and excessive fast food, with saddlebags of my own and a depressing lack of matching outfits and blue ribbons. I live indoors all day every day. So why in the world would I want to venture into the world of horses again after such a long absence? Because this soul craves a new breadth. It aches to rediscover something that has been lost. It struggles to breath in these compartments inundated with the whirring of electrical objects and fabricated chemicals that are killing it slowly. Even now an unfamiliar noise fills my chest and mind. It’s the gnashing of teeth from a wild animal stuck in a cage far too long.

I have been researching horses and teachers and trainers and boarding facilities around Springfield for over a week now. I have looked at every picture of a horse on craigslist with an ooh and an ahh for each one. When I see them, it awakens this primal need inside me to be with them. To be running, to be outside, in the cold dew filled air and fields at sunrise without the aid of an alarm clock. All the while the robot city folk are still sleeping their ill-gained sleep, dreaming of gadgets and television programming and things without life in them. Things without lungs, legs and flesh. I can no longer dream of these man made things. They hold no excitement for me. They are dead. More importantly, they were never alive. I’m tired of feeling as lifeless as these objects that surround me day in and day out. I am still young in age, so why is it that I feel so old?

I want to be with horse people again. Animal people. Country people. People of the land. Gods people. My people. They don’t buy every scrap of food and clothing prepackaged, pregrown, and prechewed to suit their greedy infant appetites. They don’t just consume everything around them without putting something back. They grow things. They don’t grab at some money driven society’s commercially tainted tit with hands that have never known a callus. They have a richness that they purchase without any form of currency. It is earned with early mornings, bare hands and feet making contact with the earth on a daily basis, in a place where instincts are more valuable than contracts and the training is free to anyone who will come and lay claim to it. Tuition is an honest day’s work breaking a sweat before any of the 9-5 folk slap the snooze button on their alarm clock.

Today I am meeting with someone over lunch who may let me lease one of her horses for a while, so I can get the feel of it again before I consider diving further into the investment of actually owning one. Of course it’s all about money isn’t it? It has to be. I sell 8 hours of my life every day for money and I am darn sure going to get something for that time that I will never get back. This time I won’t take whatever I can get for fear of inconveniencing anyone else. This time I will research it and find something pure, something worth the cost of my lost hours. Something that will give me a little bit of life as I spend those 40 hours each week in my compartment waiting for death. This is something I can do to give me some of those breaths back. I want them. Yes, indeed. I WILL get them back.

Tonight after work I am quite literally going to see a man about some land and possibly a horse. Maybe I will put my hope in him and this animal, maybe I won’t. No matter what, this new found hope cannot be suffocated as so many others have been. This one must take root. It must live.

All I know is, if I don’t search it out, then I will continue dying when I should be living.

Call me television killer. Call me sister sunshine. Call me the early bird. Call me a hippie or a hillbilly. Even those titles seem foreign to me now and unassociated with my life.

Soon you will call me horse woman, lover of horses and wild spirited things, above all, a woman who truly lives her life. Soon I will break these restraints and run because running is all that sounds good after 10 years of being in a cage. Soon I will be free and once again, get back to being me.

Maybe it will take a while. I will have to learn to walk again. Then to trot, then canter, then gallop.All I know is this: I desperately need my skin to feel like skin again, and not just some suit I’m wearing. I want my body to feel alive with exertion, my muscles to ache from a long ride. To feel the refreshment of the early morning dew on my skin and the wind in my hair and face. These things seem insignificant, you take them for granted when you have them. At the moment, they are all I can think about.

An Old Love Remembered

A person that truly loves something, no matter how they try to avoid it or their life brings them out of contact with it, will feel an aching, an emptiness in their life without it. Existence becomes almost meaningless, empty, tasteless, numb. There were always three things that made me feel that way: writing, drawing and horses. I occasionally pick up a pencil to draw again, and I have recently begun writing again. These things refresh my soul and enrich my life.

Horses are harder though. You have to know someone with horses, or have the resources (land and money) to own and take care of your own horse. As of right now, I have none of those things. My house is in the suburbs, there’s not a pasture or barn in sight. And it’s not just that easy to move either, we own this house. Last week some time I got this mad hankering to watch Black Beauty, one of my all time favorite movies. I cried (of course) and all those feelings of love, fascination, joy, rapture… all those things I felt about horses came flooding back, overwhelming me.

Then Saturday, I was at the Ozarks Romance Authors meeting and the speaker was a “western” writer. His sister had recently written a book with a young girl riding a horse on the cover. On the back was a picture of her with her own horse, looking all majestic and gorgeous. I got to meet her and talk with her briefly. Then I wrote a blog about my favorite books, several of which…. that’s right…. had to do with horses in some way. I made the mistake of getting passionate about reading Robin McKinely again and I remembered why I loved her books so much: her characters always have a close bond with either a horse or a dog the size of a horse.

I have been listening to the Hero and the Crown on audio book, the main character in this one is a red head named Aerin who fights dragons and re-tames this old war horse of her father’s named Talat. The picture to the right always reminds me of this book… but she seems to be a lot nicer to dragons than she was in the book. The first time I read this I was in 8th grade. My adorable little English Teacher, Mrs. Bastian, recommended it to me. I read a book in 4th grade called Pounding Hooves, about a girl who draws and becomes obsessed with this wild arabian mare that moves into the field close to her house. I started reading Beauty a few weeks ago but it isn’t holding my attention. Last night I dove into The Blue Sword again, which was better than I remembered. It’s the sequel to The Hero and the Crown. The horses have names like Red Wind and Fire Heart. The main characters of all these books have these deep bonds with their horses and a love of riding. Of course, it also doesn’t help that I “liked” the Cowboy Magic page on facebook and now I am daily inundated with pictures of beautiful horses from them. It makes my heart sick with memories.

I had a horse from the time I was about 12 to the time I was 16 or so. My broke single mom convinced the old man that owned the field down the road from us to let me use it and she helped me get the most wonderful thing I have ever owned: a Palomino mare, 15 hands high, and her name was Ginger. I was in love with everything about her. Her eyes, her feet, her hair, her whinnie, her smell… everything. I remember when we went to get her, the old guy selling her was a good man. When I saw her I started crying, I couldn’t believe something so wonderful could be for me. My brother in law at the time, Hoss, was a horse man and taught me everything I needed to know to take care of her and be safe around her. I miss him, but more accurately, I miss those days.

I remember the first time we cantered, how exhilarating it was. The first time we galloped!! The time she decided to go down to the pond for a drink while I was riding her and then she decided she would just go for a nice little swim across the pond with me still on her back! It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I fed her sweet oats, apples and carrots. I brushed her and played games with her. No wonder I never got my school work done. I was in love. The picture to the left is of me when I was about 12 riding my horse, Ginger. My childhood friend, Kara, is peaking out from behind me! I miss those sweet simple days.

In the spirit of those days I started looking at ads for horses on craigslist and came across one for a herd of mustangs that a guys was training and selling for like $125 each! Lots of colors, lots of choices and it was right here in Springfield!!! I checked the address and it was close to my work, like 2 minutes away. I got off work early and went to see the people and as it turns out it was a place that gives classes on horsemanship. It’s a big beautiful place, they keep the Greene County Sheriff’s Posse horses. They are state owned and operated.I talked to one of the trainers/care takers of the horses and she said that if I wanted to I could even apply as a volunteer. I was so excited I could barely move… I feel like I’m twelve again! I’m gonna do it! BEST THING EVER!!!

So, as a treat and hopefully to start a relationship with the people of the ranch so we can volunteer, Heather and I will be taking an adult beginner class there next weekend. It’s 4 hours long and you get to learn all the basics of care, grooming, saddling, catching, feeding and so on. Oh, and I will be riding a horse for the first time in about 13 years. I am so excited. I can’t wait! Neither can Heather. 🙂

Now, here are a few other horsey pictures… just for fun. Enjoy!

   

I’m Effervescent!

Here I am again having my sleep disturbed at 5:49 AM by my dog sitting in my face, whimpering, breathing his rotten garbage breath directly into my nostrils, begging me to go out. As soon as my eyelids flutter out of my REM cycle, there’s Boo, in my arm pit or on my chest, looking at me intently and squirming as if he is about to implode. I reach out and coax him, trying to get him to quiet down because I can see it’s still dark outside and I don’t feel like getting up yet. Then, seeing my hand stir, here comes the other one.

What sort of heartless person could ignore these faces? Boo is on the left, Kitty is on the right. They are the best version of prozac for me.

 

She couldn’t care less about going out, she wants me to hurry and wake up because she knows it’s Saturday and she wants me to stop being a jerk by insisting on sleeping, get my lazy carcass up and play fetch with her. Have you ever seen Dr. Doolittle, the one with Eddie Murphy? Remember the Jack Russell with the serious ball fetching addiction? My dog, Kitty, is a Pomeranian, not a JR, but I assure you, she’d give that short haired punk a run for his money in the toy obsession department. Even right NOW, while I am sitting in my husband’s recliner typing this, she is standing on my knees, gazing at me from over the top of my laptop screen. Good Lord, if I ever have a child, I hope the kid is quazimodo’s look alike or the spitten image of Hitler, because if it’s anywhere near as cute as my dog is, I’m in trouble.

The reason I am still awake, drinking my sugared up red 40 drink at 6:24 AM, with 2 black fuzzballs dying of attention deficit and warming the outer part of my left leg, is that I had a conversation this week with a man, and it puzzled me. In view of the fact that I have written two boring movie reviews this week for lack of anything more pressing to write about, I thought if I explored this idea, it might take me somewhere interesting enough to make you want to read it. SO here goes.

Let me start off by saying this, I am not a physically attractive woman. I mean, I probably could be, if I tried harder, made efforts with hair and make up, dressed even remotely feminine on a regular basis, did a nightly face cleansing ritual, and lost about 50 pounds. The problem is, I don’t do any of those things and what with my being a desk jockey, sitting in my office 8 hours a day, very rarely taking walks, no matter how little I eat, I certainly haven’t had any luck losing weight.

I blame red 40 and MSG. With the recent addition of a teenager to our household, I have been making a lot more koolaid and sweetening it with Stevia in the Raw just so she will quit drinking other crap that is loaded with sugar, calories and draining an obese-person sized hole in my bank account. That’s right, juice, milk and soda aren’t just bad for you, they’re expensive! Today’s koolaid just happens to have red 40 in it. I tried to get the “invisible” kool aid, but there was only one flavor of that. Seriously koolaid? Make more flavors of invisibles without red 40. Because poor people need healthy nervous systems too!

Oh good grief, my own attention deficit is carrying me away again. Let me get to the point. So, I have residents, male and female alike, that come in to my office and end up talking to me FOREVER! I normally don’t have a problem with this because I get bored and so lonely in my office. If a person that is even a little interesting comes in, I will jump up and down, wagging my tail and wiggling, just like my little Kitty dog, excited to have the company to free me from my monotony. I am fully aware that some of them probably think I talk too much. If they only knew how much I hold back…

This one guy that just moved in to one of my complexes, mid forties age, was a previous resident when I worked for the mega-overlord management corp. He’s a good guy, and even though the last 5 years have been rough for him due to separation/divorce, he’s always in good spirits. I like that quality about him, he’s always seeking to better himself and let me tell you, I had a long while to get to know his wife at my last property, she was in deed, a bit hard to deal with. I spoke to the woman approximately 3 times over the course of a year and the sheer exhaustion from those conversations made me go into ninja mode when I saw her, ducking around buildings and freezing in place when I saw her, hoping that not unlike the T-Rex, her primal need to complain was triggered by motion and as long as I didn’t move, she wouldn’t see me. Dude, that was close she almost caught me!

I’ve had several good conversations with this guy since his original residency at my old complex, and we’ve discussed a great many things in depth. What happens is, he comes in to my office or I see him out on property, looking all dejected, then immediately he sees me and smiles and we talk. I ask him how he’s doing. He says OK and fails to convince me and then starts talking about what’s ailing him. I make him laugh a bunch and I think he feels better. This is what I do with my residents. I’m like Yoda with a twist of Chris Rock thrown in, only less abrasive and no swearing.

A few weeks back we got to talking about the bible, which I do like to talk about with others who share that interest. I live in the bible belt so those people are about a dime a dozen. We don’t argue though, we simply talk about various ideas and concepts. No lost tempers, no banging fists on wooden surfaces, no sales pitch. I don’t care if he believes what I do. We have a good conversation and he leaves. I enjoy getting to know the unique ideas of different people, variety is the spice of life, after all. New conversation keeps me fresh and free of stagnation.

He makes a point of telling me that he enjoys talking to me but doesn’t want to seem like he’s hitting on me because he knows that I am married and would never be slimy enough to do something like that. He just enjoys talking to me, and talking about the bible, as do I. Of course, I laugh, because the idea of seeing any one of my male residents in a romantic way is an absurd concept to me. I just don’t think of anyone but my husband like that, and I’m not just saying that to stay out of the doghouse, it’s true. My life is interwoven with his, we’ve been together nearly 10 years. Not to mention the fact that he’s probably the hottest, most intelligent man I know. Intelligence is sexy to me, along with goodness, mildness, self control and confidence. All qualities he exemplifies far more often than not. In short, a better, more rounded man, does not exist. Not for me anyway. He’s my lobster.

Here’s my lobster holding Kitty, getting ready to go on a car trip. 🙂

So when my resident called later to talk to me about a maintenance issue and then called me some kind of pet name like hun or sugar or something like that, I jokingly said “Don’t call me Hun in that patronizing tone! I’m on to you!” He stumbles and says it’s just a term of endearment. So I laugh and say ok, we hang up, then he calls me back 30 seconds later.

He just wants to clarify AGAIN that he wasn’t hitting on me. I laugh and say “Look, I really do know you’re not hitting on me. I have nasty dudes come in here and hit on me all the time, so believe me when I tell you I know the difference. And seriously, why in the world would any one want to hit on me? I mean, I wear my hair up in this old lady bun or a pony tail every single day, I wear hippie sandals or converse sneakers and the same two frumpy, baggy hoodies every day. I don’t wear make up at all. Why on earth any man would want to come in here and hit on me is beyond my comprehension.”

So he hesitated a moment and then said “Well, it’s not really the way you look that makes you so attractive. It’s your personality, the way you are with people, you have an effervescent quality about you. It’s very rare and makes you a joy to talk to.”

This picture is an excellent example of my attractiveness factor, My little sister is the one on the right.

 

Of course I was flattered. What a nice thing to say, anyone would like to hear things like that said about them. I’m effervescent. I’ve never been called that before. Of course I, being the indefatigable boob that I am, immediately picture myself being taken out of a blue and white pouch and tossed into a glass of water where I fizz and make bubbles and eventually dissolve completely. Then the giant hand picks the glass up and swallows me in liquid form, feeling instantly refreshed. They even make that “Ahhhhhhh” sound that follows only the most refreshing of drinks. Effervescent. That’s me.

ef·fer·ves·cent : Adjective

1. (of a liquid) Giving off bubbles; fizzy.

2. (of a person or their behavior) Vivacious and enthusiastic.

 

I am of course, a woman, so I immediately push away any form of a compliment and assume he’s just trying to flatter me with lies. After all, no one at my house thinks I’m effer-bloody-vescent! But when I think about it, I have to admit that it may actually be true. After all, I am like a good bartender slash psychiatrist for many of my residents. I think all personable landlords wear this hat more frequently than they dare to admit and I think it is this aspect of the job that endears our residents to our properties and not just the properties themselves.

It happens in my life every single day. Residents come in and talk or complain about their problems and I try to make them laugh and give them my thoughts on their situation. They usually feel better when they leave my office. I’m not just flattering myself, I can see it in their countenance. They seem lighter, more confident, maybe even downright chipper in some instances. I think positive people can do that to people that are in a negative state. You notice I didn’t say negative people, because I don’t believe a completely negative person exists. People who appear to be negative are merely positive people in a funk. And you can quote me on that. And take it to the bank. And stuff it in your pipe and smoke it.

I do this to my dad, who I lovingly refer to as the Grim Reaper, all the time. I did it yesterday, in fact. He comes to have lunch with me, bogged down by his problems and ailments, complaining about everything under the sun, then I subtly change the subject about 67 times and once he gets the point, that I refuse to have my vital energy drained out of me by his soul sucking negativity, he just sighs, smiles and gives in to my madness. I win again. We have a nice father daughter lunch. Share an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie and laugh at each others jokes.

    This picture is proof of my effervescent effect on grumps. Case in point: My Dad.          This accomplishment alone should get me a job working for Tony Robbins or writing Hallmark greeting cards.

Anyway, I would like to thank that resident, the one who called me effervescent, because he made my day that day, and again today when I thought about the conversation further. Thanks buddy. I owe you one. How bout free rent next month? J Ha ha, just kidding. See, you were right, that did make me laugh. I’m even effervescent to myself. (Insert Jack Black Saving Silverman reference here….) HUMINUH-YAY-HAAAA!!!

My First Monkey Cage

This is an excerpt out of one of the books I’m working on… All comments are appreciated. Just don’t crush my soul or shatter my dreams. That’s my husband’s job. 😛 Just kidding honey… please don’t beat me tonight. I’ll be good, I swear! I am not sure what I’m gonna call this chapter yet. Many thanks go out to Karen who has been helping me with it. I don’t intend for “My First Monkey Cage” to be the actual title, but I wanted something that portrays exactly how I felt… this picture seemed to do it. Also, I love monkeys. 🙂

My first office as a landlord instilled a permanent case of claustrophobia in every new manager assigned to it. Yet, it never really occurred to me to feel ashamed of it. I was so happy to have my own space. It was mine and there was no one there to watch over my shoulder. I was independent; free to let my ADHD run rampant among the stacks of disorganized papers and folders for long periods of time and not have anyone else witness those unproductive hours. After years of receptionist jobs gone awry, things were finally looking up. I’d found my niche.

Day one had me christening my very own copy of the company’s hallowed primus key. Dollar symbols flashed before my eyes every time I used it due to the $250 fine they charged for losing it. As a scatter brain who misplaced small valuable objects on a daily basis, I lived in constant fear of this inevitable misfortune and in the beginning, often found myself wondering how many lost keys and large fines I could accrue before being fired with gusto.

I gripped this cursed yet sacred object and unlocked the door of this tiny office building that closely resembles a barn. My heart sinks as I make my way back to my chair. It all seems so ironic to me now because several of my residents did closely resemble barnyard animals. The anorexic looking bird girl in A that only ate soup and reeked of it. The two old turkeys in D that gobbled constantly about the malodorous pig man in C and his high strung cat lady wife.

The laundry room, maintenance shop and leasing office were all housed in less than 350 square feet. The office space was no larger than an oversized handicapped bathroom stall. Take away the toilet and replace it with the bulky leather office chair I’m sitting in that spins, squeaks, and is quite frankly, a bit overkill for an office this size. It has a lever on the bottom right that indicates it is adjustable. So I try to adjust it about ten times. Nothing happens.

It probably worked fine before my sandal wearing, toenail clipping, patchouli scented predecessor destroyed it by constantly leaning back in it and putting his feet up on the desk so any current or future resident would  surely take pride in what their rent dollars were providing for them in terms of management.  Professionally managed, indeed!

In front of me is a desk that has been carved and written on enough to make me feel like I really am in a bathroom stall. Only instead of phone numbers to call for a good time there are stick figures and smiley faces. Scratch the bathroom thing, I’m apparently in a cave. To my right is a smaller desk with a giant monitor from the cretaceous period covering the entire top surface and a computer tower at my feet. To my far left is a black commercial sized printer sitting on a dollar store shelf that has been hastily installed in the wall using shiny white brackets. The white shelves are supposed to be shiny too but fail miserably in that endeavor due to a quarter inch layer of dust.

On the wall adjacent to that is a large white marker board filled with crooked black tape lines and some gibberish calculations of my aforementioned predecessor. Staring the printer down from the opposing wall is an old green filing cabinet with a magnet on it. It’s a small picture of an old woman dressed like Madame Bovary on a yellow background. The caption reads “Hi. Thought you should know who you’ve been spilling your guts to in that filthy chat room.” On my last day in this office I steal this magnet and take it with me to every property I ever take over. This is my curse. I must steal one small meaningless object from every place I work. It’s usually a cup, switching to magnets is a big step for me.

The ink-guzzling fax machine on top of the filing cabinet has been flooded with faxes that are beginning to overflow into the floor. Two black waiting chairs sit snuggly beside it, directly across from my desk with only enough room for dwarves or people without legs to fit comfortably. Next to the chairs is the white wood entry door with a window that gives my office a country cottage feel.

As I contemplate rearranging the chairs and fail to come up with an executable plan of attack, I imagine only being able to rent to legless people. My furrowed brow betrays my contempt for them as I agonize over what this might do to my leasing bonuses in view of the severe “shortage” of legless people or dwarves looking for apartments in this area. Images with bold captions in fair housing paperwork come back to me and I wonder How can I target legless people and dwarves in my advertising without seeming biased against people of average height with legs?

Next there is the geriatric wall air conditioning unit. My glorified storage space doesn’t have the luxury of central air. Instead, mounted above the chairs where future residents will squeeze themselves like sardines into my torture chamber, the first window style air conditioner ever built looms over them. A wood paneled monster with a grill for a face and a chronic asthmatic breathing condition rivaling that of Darth Vader. I eventually grow so tired of it that I happily give up cool air in favor of peace and quiet.

Remember, I am a leasing professional. These minor inconveniences do not faze me. Lastly there is a small window to the outside world that looks right out onto the pool. I am forced to watch people laugh and frolic in the pool as I sit in silence, brooding over unpaid rent and unauthorized pets. I was there 9 months.