Back from Saratoga

Transitioning from work life to school life (aka real life)

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How could I resist a selfie with the beautiful Songbird?!

I’m still used to waking up early. Six a.m., there are horses to be fed. My alarm goes off, the most annoying ringy-dingy sound I could possibly find on my phone. It reminds me of a circus. Our little hobby farm along the Red River is far from a circus. Saratoga was a little closer, mornings, days and nights never slowing down. Track work in the mornings, races in the afternoons, parties raging through the night (for people who don’t work for The Saratoga Special). Here we’re surrounded by farm fields. Green soybean plants, higher than my hip as far as I can see. A few fields over, corn and wheat.

The nice thing about the level horizon is the sunrises. A vivid pink haze, painted with purple streaks seeped into the morning sky today, reminding me of when you dunk a black tea bag into a steaming cup of water and the steeping spices meld with the liquid until it becomes a rich brown.

Saratoga has made me into a coffee addict. Three years of college and I never once relied on a caffeinated beverage to get me through a long night of writing essays.

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My press box view has been replaced by classrooms

Every morning I tell myself I should stop, wean myself off the caffeine before I’m to the point of no return. Perhaps I’m already there, because every morning I pour myself another cup, the taste reminding me of 4:45 a.m. wake-up calls the week before the Alabama Stakes, getting my butt to the track to watch the famous filly Songbird train at 5:30. It was my time to have her to myself and not have to share her with the rest of the world. Only the other morning souls, nursing their coffees at the Morning Line Kitchen, and the backside workers who had been at the track since before I awoke.

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I began the long drive home 11 p.m. last Saturday (don’t worry my mom was driving when I took this!)

Too cheap to buy coffee every day and without a clue as to how to work my host family’s complex coffee maker, I lived by a box of Irish breakfast tea and Nescafe instant coffee from Walmart. When I didn’t have time for the tea I mixed the coffee powder with tepid water, threw in ice cubes and vanilla creamer and called it good. When I was truly desperate I considered mixing the tea and coffee, but never quite reached that point.

Surely there must be something I should be doing right now. Past performances to review, trainers to chase down for interviews, audios to transcribe, a stakes preview to write… something. I’ve felt like this since Monday, my first full day back where being from Fargo isn’t a novelty.

When I was in Saratoga, I didn’t go by Annise. A lot of people didn’t even know me as Annise. They called me “Fargo,” a nod to my roots, unique because of where I’m from and how I made it to the big leagues. I should make it clear, I’m not big league yet, just learning from those who’ve already made it, setting myself up to be there someday.

Just gotta keep on keepin’ on.

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