Dust, wind, and otherwise good times.

[David with our new foal, Magnolia]

Hey Howdy Hey from the Rainbow Trout Ranch!

I aim to please so I’m going to try and make this concise and enjoyable. Hence, I refer you to my various lists of things.

A Chronicle of the Past few hours:

2:00-4:00 p.m : Attempt to scream across the roaring wind blowing in my face and everyone else on my afternoon ride and make pleasant conversation. In my opinion, yelling and niceties never go well together much less lead to anything I could describe as “pleasant.” I have sand in my ears, my mouth, my nose, my jeans, my boots, my everywhere. So do, I imagine, my guests.

4:00-6:00: Cleaned out my room, collected laundry, and chit chatted with the barn crowd.

6:30-7:00: Told C over and over that I did not for a second believe him and his fantastic ideas.

                  Ate delicious BBQ ribs and chicken

                  Allowed Lauren to persuade me eating 2 rolls with massive amounts of butter was a good idea.

7:30: Joked around with Jane and Cameron while driving up to the lodge and fawning over our new rodeo shirts.

Things I’ve found in my jean and shirt pockets:

  1. Spare bits of rawhide
  2. Spare bits of chalk
  3. Smooth skipping rocks
  4. Tape
  5. Paper clips
  6. 5 hairties
  7. Horse hair
  8. Barley seeds
  9. Hay

A small list of things I miss while here (However incredibly happy I am)

  1. Studio time, painting, printing, art making
  2. Dante
  3. Riding my bicycle everywhere
  4. Baking cupcakes
  5. READING. I never have enough time to read as much as I want. William and C have lent me some books which I intend to devour, at some point.
  6. My sisters and my brother. Well, no, my whole family.

Small but significant achievements:

  1. I can finally throw my super heavy saddle.
  2. C persuaded me to throw away my ugly walmart “mom” jeans and buy some wranglers from big R. I finally look more the part. Thanks paycheck!
  3. I sent not one but 4 text messages this week. Whoooo.

Ok, that’s all for now.

I am happy, I am, save two awful migraines, very healthy.

Love,

Pau

[ The wranglers one early morning ]

Cowpoke Counseling: Week 1

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Hey all,

Back at Rainbow Trout Ranch

It’s been ages, I’ll be honest. I have no offering of excuses for my lack of posts and writing, only the passage of time and lots and lots of travel.

I’m sitting in the dining room of the lodge, trying to fool other people into using the other internet line so I can very slowly unload some of my thoughts and whatever else onto the blog for all of you to read. I’m back at RTR (Rainbow Trout Ranch) for my third and probably last season as a kids counselor and wrangler. C and I arrived at the ranch on Sunday well before we were actually supposed to get there. As much as we enjoyed our adventure filled road trip, we were ready for the ranch weeks beforehand. (**Later, I promise to dedicate a full post to our roadtrip and all the wonderful things we did.)

My first day back at the ranch felt so oddly familiar, as if I’d never left. I fell into the same habits, the same kinds of movements, and the same high altitude heavy breathing. The first time we walked down to the valley to visit the horses, my feet found their place on the path and I half expected to look behind me and see a group of cowpokes stumbling and running around.

The best part of this season was being here to help open. We raked the grounds, the bushes, the grass, and everything in between. We polished every wood surface with Liquid Gold. Lauryn and I climbed a precarious ladder to clean windows, and during break, I returned to my old friends; Sun Chips and Dowey Egberts coffee. It was a lot of hard work, but it felt good to be working alongside all of the new staff. I remember one afternoon having porch time with Callie and talking about being a return staff. She talked about how strange it feels to have new people filling a familiar space; because those spaces are still filled with memories of other people, of other moments in time. The new people wash over them like a fresh coat of paint. I miss walking down to breakfast with Elaina, and staying up late talking about everything from our pet peeves to our pasts. This summer I’m living at the barn and in some ways, it makes adjusting to a new community much easier. All things considered, I am very happy to be back here. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

 Jane had Colton and I wrangling quite a bit at the start and even that felt extremely familiar. When we were going over the sing along routine for Saturday night, Doug asked me to sit in his chair and lead everyone.  I feel honored to be given so much responsibility.

The new wranglers are almost done with their training, and I’m almost done training the new counselors. I have high hopes for both Leah and Ashlee. It helps that they seems as excited about it as I am. For all that being a kids counselor can be tiring and sometimes wearing, I wouldn’t trade my job for any other. I can’t wait to see the kids and take them on rides, go exploring, and build new forts.

I miss all of you reading this. My one regret is that being here makes it so much harder to stay in touch with all of my good friends and family. Still, I’ll be posting some pictures and such soon!

 (Caroline riding my favorite, Mara)

Pau.

"We thank you for your patience…"

I knew this customer service call was going to be just great as I listened to the representative on the line say, “Ooohhhhhhhhhhhh no,” as he looked at what I presume is our account history. 

"This is bad…..I mean….aghhhhhh…..this…….just….doesn’t really……this is bad."

I don’t mean to be impertinent but in light of more devastating events such as the missing Malaysian plane, or the US  health care system, this pales in comparison. Still, I chose to approach this situation (and I mean no offense when I say this) with an Italian mindset: Yes, this company had wronged me and I was going to milk it for all it was worth. 

An hour and a half later, I successfully completed my goal.

extra credit to bill and a glass of white wine in my hand. 

I feel,

like a champion of adult life.

suck it.

Love, 

Pau

What if I started running triathalons? what if?? ha ha ha…no

Since a certain someone came to visit in Feb/March my whole family has become obsessed with almonds. I think I’m addicted too.

                                                     ***

Dear customers of the Cube,

Writing “you are beautiful” on the receipt signature line does NOT COUNT as an official signature. (While I am flattered, you are not making my job easier)

                                                     ***

Dear customers of the Cube,

Please enunciate when you give me your delivery orders over the phone, because sometimes you sound like this:

"Yes, I want a blahgjhsf fjfbk afbjkdfsjbfd and some mashhhhhced cheesssssssdub fiefdsssssss withn honeyyyuhs and no msdfso sdfbos, Oh and cjak youu add dnosdjng gofgkf dofg?"

Got it. 

                                                    ***

Dear future cloned-Pau,

Please take over my work hours so I can devote my real time to arts and craft projects, flying around the world to visit all my best friends, learning how to cook properly, and eat more almonds…

 love,

Pau

A Love Letter to Faraway Dreams

There are some days when I feel so frustrated by how far away and impossible my goals and heart of hearts desires can be. 

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I will describe these things in memories.

I must have been five or so, and mom took me to the store and let me put a quarter into one of those plastic motorized ponies that would sway mechanically from side to side. It was a quarter’s worth of fantasy in which I was a cowgirl on the range.

I remember Papi and Mom telling me in that I told you so voice, that I could really be missing out if I didn’t go with them to the friend of a friends party for people who had just moved back from D.C to Bosque Farms. “I think Fernando has horses,” Papi said. I grabbed my purse and jumped in the car. 

I remember the drive from our house at 408 to the grandparent’s house in Rio Rancho. Sometimes Mom would take Rio Grande so we could pass all the fancy horse farms while I glued my face to the window.

I remember my first proper lesson at Liz Sanchez, Margarita, the slowest arabian and barely alive. I reveled in the idea of cross ties and saddling my own horse and Rocky, the brown easy going appendix quarter horse.

I remember North Valley Equestrian Center, where I attended my first show, I made my first horse friends, and worked in exchange for lessons.

I remember when my soccer coach Ralph pulled me aside one day after practice to give me one of his old racing saddles, because he knew I loved horses. 

I remember weekend trail rides with Fernando and how he compared all his horses to cars. My favorite horse in the world, a beautiful golden buckskin mare who loved to be outside, who I chased around the pasture with carrots in my hand, and who had a stubborn streak that humbled me so many times. 

I remember Fox Meadow Farms, where the nicest horsewoman in the world gave me the benefit of the doubt and hired me to work for my lessons. I remember feeling all the stress of school and deadlines and GPA’s and organic chemistry leave me the moment I stepped into the barn. In that arena, nothing existed except me and whichever horse was putting up with me that day. I volunteered to work weekends, and found sanity in the deep satisfaction that comes with physical labor. 

Then there was RTR, where everything I love in this world came together in the most beautiful and incredible way. This may be my last summer there and I plan on enjoying it to the fullest. 

While cleaning my room after school, I suddenly felt that fire, that intense longing, for the countryside, the smell of sawdust and grass, and the familiar sight of a horse. I have never been so frustrated to be in the city.

Dear hopes and dreams,

I miss you.

love,

Paula

:(

pumpkin smoothy by the pioneer woman. Tried it for breakfast this morning and it is delish

Dear Pinterest,

I tried making your super healthy pumpkin breakfast smoothie.

I followed the recipe.

and it was…GROSS. 

Thanks for crushing my hopes and dreams. 

best,

Paula

p.s I don’t care how you dress it up, almond milk is still yucky. 

What if we all talked like newscasters, all the time?

This Monday is my one and only day of spring break. I am also so sad because it’s almost over. 

 Today I felt like Harry with his bottle of felix felicitus: absolutely nothing could go wrong. 

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I spent my morning stretching and catnapping under my comforter, then moved to my desk with a bowl of honey bunches of oats and all the letters/paperwork I’ve been trying to finish for the past week. I shopped, I shipped things at the post office, and I FINALLY found a pair of wrangler jeans and a pink button down shirt for Fridays. I finished the work on old panasonic bike, battled the wind and all the massive cracks on the street, then returned home for some extreme moose tracks ice cream.

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Papi chased me around the kitchen when he discovered I wasn’t wearing any green. I have to admire his commitment to the holidays. He’s puts flour in his hair and charcoal lines on his face for Halloween and for today, a really adorable hand cut shamrock pin made of recycled green cardboard. When I saw it carefully pinned to his old sweater, I just laughed.

I love my dad.

I know it’s cheesy, but continuing with that thought, I also love my mom. We left the house on the premise of getting bananas and ended up, inevitably, at the thrift shop, and then Ross. I found the Star Wars trilogy on VHS and spent way to long trying to reconcile my body with a random assortment of swim suits. ( As a sidenote: there are some bikinis I encountered today that were so unsightly, NO ONE should be allowed to wear them. )

I know she had work and was tired, but my mom volunteered to drive. After living away from home for so long, I’ve really come to appreciate those rare hours when we can chat and drive and I can critique my her alarming driving style. She, in turn, exclaims for the nth time about how I always drive with my seat straight up (it’s for my posture silly) and “too close” to the gas and brake pedal. 

Though it only lasted a day, it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. 

—Pau

On achievement and life and such.

[I wrote this as night so please excuse any and all typos]

[also, Italian students, if you are still fb friends and are trying to read this, I’m sorry for difficult english constructions, and also, I miss you. ]

Today I was a substitute teaching for an art class at the Academy. There is a lot I could write about regarding that hour long period of hovering obnoxiously over high school students, but, I really got to thinking a lot more about the question I had to answer before any of the teaching even started; a question I’ve been asked so many times since getting back from Italy and revisiting old friends.

“So tell me, what have you been up to?”

Maybe I should add the context to this particular situation.

“So tell me, what have you been up to (since I last saw you at your high school graduation ceremony in 2009)?

When you’re asked a question like that, there really isn’t a whole lot of time for pause or reflection. Which us rather unfortunate. In that moment, it incited in me a similar feeling that I encountered only a year before I graduated in 2009,

“What colleges are you applying to?”

Or even better,

“What did you get on your SAT?”

Instinctually, I wanted to say something impressive, something of note that would befit an Academy graduate. I mean, how many times had the Academy preached to me how special I was, how unique, how talented? I was, after all, an investment in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on supportive statements that instill hope and self-confidence; I’m just saying those adjectives paint a picture of the future that does a great job selling a private school but has the same level of abstraction as world peace: It’s easy to say, but more challenging to describe and/or achieve.

So I started with the basics.

“I’m here in Albuquerque. I’m going to school part-time and working part time. In April I’ll be flying out to California to meet up with my boyfriend and road trip back to Colorado for the summer.

What else could I have said?

“Well, I brushed my teeth almost every day, I moved around a lot, I talked and sometimes, I was asleep.”

I followed my gut and did not use that as my response.

Anyway, the question got me thinking (once again) about what it’s like to be 23 and graduated and trying to “figure everything out.” The first thing you realize is that there are absolutely no rules or guidelines about the years that follow. To use a cheesy bowling metaphor, life after college I like playing the game for the first time without bumpers. The fear you will roll a gutterball is imminent, the floor is so shiny, and to succeed all of a sudden seems kinda hard.

Ok I am taking this too far. Bowling is an awful way to talk about life after college.

Still, I was always used to strategizing. With bumpers, you can calculate angles of impact, or at least, are guaranteed that you WILL HIT SOMETHING. In college/high school/being a child, I was constantly learning and refining my skills at operating within limits. Rules, structure, schedules, advisor meetings, credit hours, semesters…these were my limiting factors. Time Management Skills, they call it. By the time I graduated from Smith, I felt proud of my mastery of this way of life. Unfortunately, life after college is very unlike college.

I’ll switch to art, something I know a great deal more about than bowling.

In art, the idea is the same: without limits, it’s easy to feel lost.

For example, if you give me 10 nails, a block of wood, sandpaper, and some black paint, I can go to town making and inventing different variations of beautiful objects made solely out of those materials. Flexibility always seems to thrive and grow within limited conditions. As does creativity. Now, however, if you were to tell me to make whatever I wanted, however I wanted, and with whatever I wanted, everything comes to a dead stop. To make progress given infinite possibility can often be like trying to drag massive blocks of cement across a carpet—there’s a lot of friction. When I was taking my senior seminar in conceptual artwork, I came to understand this concept very well. I was given a small white cubicle studio with no natural light, monthly deadlines for critiques, and basically no rules. The only directive was our theme, “failure”, which seemed highly ironic at the time, given that after the first month, no one had produced much work, we were all frustrated and definitely feeling the pressure to perform. A wiser artist might have recognized the dangers inherent in a structureless class but I was the student, not the teacher.

The second semester I had learned my lesson. I made up my own limits (which at the time felt somewhat random and definitely unfounded in adult official stamp of approval). The second semester, as you might imagine, was much more stimulating and exciting. I did some of my best thinking and creating then.

So I suppose what I’d like to conclude with, as a sort of idea, is that I’ve realized that life after college is only so shocking because it is like nothing I have ever worked at before. It freaked me out because it doesn’t come with an expected graduation date, or an expected achievement level, or rules about a family, or what kind of car you should buy, or when you should actually do your taxes, or how much is reasonable to expect for your salary.

No.

That’s what Google, Wikipedia, about.com, and the REST OF THE INTERNET is for.

All my love,

Pau.