El Derby, mi caballo Larry, y SCUBA

What’s better than horse racing in Chile, my own horse, and learning to breathe underwater?

This is the third time I’ve restarted this blog, because I no sooner write a few paragraphs that I have to stop. ‘This will be an easy semester,’ I once thought. Joke’s on me, because it’s been anything but! For now, I’m sitting in the NDSU Minard Hall coffee shop, enjoying a much-needed coffee after my 8:00 am intro to acting class, writing a fun little read for your Tuesday.

Three things:

  1. El Derby
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Bad screenshot, but quite the crowd at El Derby, 2017! Screenshot from Sporting.cl live feed

I’ve had the itch for a while now to write about Chile. In fact, I’ve never missed Chile as much as I did on Sunday, February 5. Memories from last February keep nudging me, reminders of when I was packing my bags to study abroad, oblivious to the challenges I would face and overcome – challenges that created a human of more substance than I was just a year ago.

Sunday the 5th, after a mouth wide open, dead to the world nap on a van back from an IHSA horse show (where I rode and practiced my Spanish by interviewing my teammates and translating their responses), I walked in the door of our house, on a mission to finish homework and return to my sleepy bliss as soon as possible. Continue reading

A bed. A window. A new year.

the best thing you can do is find a comfortable spot to look ahead

I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed, facing my window. My laptop is propped up on a maroon-colored antique stool with pink and orange flower embroidery that I inherited from my grandmother.

I was sitting in this exact same position yesterday, staring out the window, lost in thought as I tried to focus on studying my PADI open water diver manual. And I realized something. Strangely enough, and maybe this is just a disjointed correlation that can only be made in my brain alone, but just less than a year ago I was sitting cross legged on a bed, laptop propped up in front of me, sun shining in through a large glass window and sliding door – in another country. Continue reading

Thank you Ginger

I met my first love when I was 8 years old. Young, huh?

We were introduced with a note. It was wrapped in a small box and handed to me by my mother on Christmas Day of 2003. Undoubtedly the best day of my life – not only for what happened that day, but for the series of life events it triggered, like the first domino in an intricate pattern, each one clinking and falling against the next, forming loops and circles and long lines.

I unwrapped the box, I think it had once held paperclips, and pulled out a note scrawled in my mom’s neat and elegant handwriting: “Go to the window and you will see, a friend to hug and love with glee.”

img_5018The best day of many people’s lives is when they look down the aisle of a church and take the first steps toward the one they will spend the rest of their life with. And maybe someday that will be one of the best days of my life as well. But on that Christmas Day, I pushed my chair away from our dining room table and a plate with a half-eaten caramel roll, and took my first steps toward the kitchen window, hardly daring to hope for what, or who would be waiting for me when I looked outside.

I’ve always wondered, out of all the little girls who ask for a pony for Christmas, how many are actually granted their wish. I was one of the lucky ones.

I stood on my tip-toes and leaned over the kitchen sink to peer out the window. Tied to our front deck was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen: a pony with a thick, red roan-colored winter coat and a big, red bow hanging around her neck.

Her name was Ginger. Continue reading

The Disappearance of Sincerity

A loaded blog about being true to your word

This blog has been a long-time coming.

I generally don’t like writing about human behavior, as oftentimes it can be construed as superficial or a mundane internet vent session. But there are certain subjects I feel are very important and many share my sentiments on.

Here’s my question: What ever happened to sincerity?

Are we completely past the days when a handshake solidified a promise as true and well-founded as a written contract? Or how about when plans at 7 actually meant plans at 7? Or following through after offering to teach someone a new skill, a bed to sleep on while traveling or help in finding a new job? Continue reading

This Year’s Christmas Pics

The struggle of taking family Christmas photos

There’s a Barenaked Ladies holiday song (this is a band comprised of men, so don’t let your mind wander too far) called “Christmas Pics.” The lyrics go like this:

Turkey is done, reviews are mixed
When’s mom gonna get that hearing aid fixed?
Hold still
And wait for the click
You’re in this year’s Christmas pics

Brother, we don’t agree
About the government and where to put the tree
Hold still
And wait for the click
We’re in this year’s Christmas pics

Flashbulbs and wine
And ‘hold that smile’
Everyone’s here
Flown for miles
Looks like we’ve stood the test
And we’re looking our best
Continue reading

Riding Side Saddle, Part 2: Lady Annise takes a spin

On a Tuesday afternoon in Saratoga Springs,  I learned how to ride side saddle

Today’s one of those days when my heart aches for New York a little more than usual. A photographer I met while working at Saratoga Race Course tweeted a picture of the Whitney Viewing Stand – a viewing area where you can watch racehorses train on Saratoga’s Oklahoma Training Track — covered in a blanket of snow that had fallen over the last couple of days and looking sadly forlorn. Gilded and rust colored leaves clung to the spindly branches of trees in the background, a last-ditch showcase by fall before winter takes over.

Even on an occasional day off, I enjoyed driving to the track and watching the Thoroughbreds, many of which were steeplechase horses, walk onto the infield of the Oklahoma during the late morning for grass gallops. The athleticism and beauty of a racehorse in motion should be savored with the eyes whenever you have the opportunity, and sometimes it was nice to stop and watch without the niggling feeling that I should be chasing someone down for an interview. Continue reading

Riding Sidesaddle, Part 1: Learning the Sport

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Lady Mary in a scene from Downton Abbey

Jane Smiley’s Horse Country, a piece published last year in the New York Times, describes grass and sky and mist over Virginia and the wide, flat expanse of Maryland – both regaled horse countries. The tiny taste I got while driving through the Adirondack Mountains and experiencing the rich horse culture of Saratoga Springs left me with nothing but good things to say about the eastern United States.

I’m going to hedge a guess, based on what I’ve read and heard from friends, that the horsey culture of the rest of other eastern states is equally valued or perhaps even more potent than what I experienced around Saratoga Springs.  I have a friend from Maryland who tells me I’m missing out, and know folks from Pennsylvania who say there’s nothing better. Continue reading

High and Tight

The trials and tribulations of buying new English horseback riding boots

For equestrians, skin-tight pants and tall black boots are completely normal daily attire for the barn, school library, Walmart — the venue doesn’t matter. To anyone of the non-horsey persuasion or unfamiliar with equestrian couture, seeing someone dressed like this might make you question their fashion sense and/or wonder if they’re merging attire for their night job with their day job, if ya catch my drift. But I can assure you that my night job involves nothing more than homework.

Anyhow, my latest project has been breaking in new field boots, so I’ve been wearing them in public (AKA not the barn) quite often lately.

For my non horse-people readers, field boots are tall black boots with laces in the front used for certain types of English riding. Not only are they difficult to fit, as you have to consider calf size and height, but they’re expensive as heck and real buggers to break in.

When you buy field boots, they’re generally at least an inch taller than you want because they drop in height as the leather relaxes. Plus they should be almost as tight as you can bear so they don’t become too loose around your calves as they stretch. Continue reading

The Final First Ride

Senior year of college marks my final year competing on the NDSU Equestrian Team

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Team captain Becky Prasch and I pose with our Champion and Reserve Champion ribbons at a show last fall

Today I attended my final NDSU homecoming parade as an actual student. If and when I go next year, I’ll be an alum, and I’m A-OK with that. Just over a month into my senior year, I’m beginning to relate with the well-known Captain Jack Sparrow on a sinking ship meme that circulates Facebook every now and then, symbolizing the various stages of your college career. At this point, I’m quite ready to hop off the ship and onto the dock, and set sail to another sea far away from homework and classrooms.

Despite my excitement for graduation, endings don’t happen without a bit of nostalgia. Tomorrow morning I depart for my final first show of the season of my IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) career. For those of you who are new to my blog or the world of collegiate horse showing, IHSA is an association that allows equestrians to compete affordably during college. Universities that host shows provide horses, and we draw horse names at random to determine who to ride. Riders are only allowed to watch the horse warm up before entering the arena to compete. The idea is that all competitors are on a level playing field, and it’s amazing in so many ways. From the adrenaline rush of getting on a new horse for the first time, to the opportunity of being able to ride competitively while attending school.

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Competing at University of Wisconsin River Falls

Tomorrow is the last first time I’ll smush into a van next to my teammates and drive five hours to a horse show. The last first time I’ll step onto a mounting block and get on a horse I’ve never ridden before, taking advice from my coach as she adjusts my stirrups. And the last first time I’ll collect my reins, nudge that horse forward and make an impression on a judge that will hopefully score points for NDSU. Continue reading

Saturday Suggestion: Get up, get going

Seven tips for getting mOTIVATED

My mind wanders as I sit at the kitchen table, alternating between reading ancient Latin American history and scrolling Twitter to ogle all the pictures of the big horse races going on around the country.

One moment I’m glancing through the feats of Hernando Cortes, and the next I’m posting selfies with Songbird to Instagram, hopefully sending good juju her way before her run in today’s Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania. For my readers who don’t know what a graded stake is, I highly encourage you to follow me on Instagram @annises_anecdotes, where I’ll explain it in one of my upcoming posts this week!

Back to today’s blog. While it might sound like scanning Twitter and reading history is a highly unproductive combination, I actually beg to differ. Not only did it help break up the monotony of a topic I only find moderately interesting, but changing the subject actually improved my focus.

Prior to my sitting, reading and scrolling, I woke up, baked pumpkin maple oatmeal for breakfast, washed three loads of dishes, worked out, created a checklist to guide my studying for the weekend, washed up and dove into homework. While a couple of those tasks were actually used as procrastination methods to prolong the time before I charged headlong into battle with my homework, they woke me up and kept me motivated.

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Larry and I taking a study break

As a self-proclaimed morning person who never feels like I have an accomplished day unless I check at least 10 tasks off my list, I’d like to share a few of my tips for waking up earlier and making the most of your day:  Continue reading