Day 10. Breaking Hearts

Day 10.  Talk about breaking someone else’s heart, or having your own heart broken.

At first, I thought I would talk about having my heart broken because that is easier, in a way, to write about.  I know my own heart – knowing another’s is not so easy.  For those of you who have been reading my Scintilla responses, it will not come as a surprise that Brett and I broke each other’s hearts often.  Although, the memory of my brokenness is still vivid I am going to try and talk about the time I broke Brett’s heart:  The time that he still throws at me; sometimes teasing but sometimes, not.  
I met Brett when I was 17 and I fell in love with him when I was 19.  He confessed to me one evening that he had fallen in love with me.  He was married with small children.  I didn’t really get that.  I thought that love conquers all – after all, it always did in the books I read.  I assumed he would get a divorce and we would get married and life would be good.  I was so naïve.  During the time I was in college, we had a relationship.  We would break up over the wrongness of what we were doing, but we always got back together again.  Even when I transferred to a university that was five hours away, we continued through long letters and phone calls.  Periodically, I would cut class for the day and drive south to meet him somewhere.  As I neared graduation, I began to suspect that we were not going to marry as promised.  He was making no movements towards divorce and I wasn’t so naïve anymore.  When I confronted him, he admitted that while he wanted to be with me he couldn’t leave his children.  I was devastated.  I didn’t see him again for a couple of years – when my first marriage ended.  
By that time, I was living back in the LA area.  We started seeing each other sporadically.  He would call me and come over to my apartment.  Then he would disappear for weeks at a time.  It was wrong and it was painful.  I couldn’t move on with my life while I was emotionally wrapped up in him.  I started feeling cheap and used.  Eventually, I got to the point where I didn’t want that kind of life anymore.  I wanted to be more than occasional sex to someone.  He swore he loved me and couldn’t live without me but I didn’t believe him anymore.  
One evening, he called and wanted to come over for a couple hours.  I met him at my door, told him it was over and to never contact me again, and shut the door.  He left.  I stood behind the door in my apartment, shaking like a leaf.  An hour later the phone rang and it was him.  He said he understood, that he wouldn’t call again, but it was important to him that I know how much he loved me.  I had trouble talking as I was still shaking and I think he took the silence as coldness.  
I didn’t see, or talk to him, for ten years.  But, that’s another story.

Day 9. List of 23

The Scintilla Project

Day 9.  23 Things To Do This Week

1.       Call my son and tell him that his bunny is dying.  This morning I found his rabbit, in the hutch, unresponsive.  I’m pretty sure he’ll be dead by this evening when I get home.  The rabbit was a birthday gift to my son when he was 10 years old.  My son is 20 now, and off at school.  I don’t think he’ll be surprised.  Rocky is a very old bunny and he has lived a good life.
2.      Go to the gym after work and do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.
3.      Start, complete and file our tax returns.  Yes, I’ve been procrastinating.  I hate doing the taxes. 
4.      Prune back the shrub roses along the front of the house. 
5.      School my horse, Winston, at least three times this week.
6.      Groom my retired horse, Jackson, and fuss over him.  He wants and needs a lot of attention.
7.      Give the goats their wormer.  Make Thistle eat his instead of spitting it out and then gulping down water.  Make sure Little Bear doesn’t eat Thistle’s wormer ball – he thinks they are goat treats.
8.      Schedule the vet to come up in April and give the horses their vaccinations. 
9.      Finish working on the poem that’s been tossing and turning in my head for two weeks.  
10.  Go to my daughter’s track meet on Thursday.  She is competing in the long jump again this year. 
11.  Go to work, attend meetings, direct my staff… the usual.
12.  Make salads every night for dinner.  We have two huge heads of lettuce and a bunch of spinach from our CSA (local organic farm) basket.  I need to use it up before Friday.
13.  Order new lights for the pond clarifier.  The existing lights have died and the water trough is getting cloudy.
14.  Celebrate my birthday this weekend by taking a trip with my husband up the coast and staying in a historic inn close to the water. 
15.  Buy The Hunger Games for my Kindle and read it this weekend so everyone will quit bugging me about the fact that I haven’t read it yet.
16.  Talk to and text my daughter regularly to hear how things are going with her new boyfriend.  So far, she is very happy.  I’m hoping she doesn’t get scared and run him off – she has a very bad case of commitment phobia.
17.  Read the daily posts on the blogs I follow.  Write posts for my Aspen Meadows blog.
18.  Figure out how I am going to get my son home from college for Easter.  Going back to school after spring break was a fiasco.  His friend who was supposed to give him a ride flaked.  The train ticket I bought him didn’t work – the train was overbooked and they wouldn’t let him on.  Flying is ridiculously expensive…
19.  Trim the donkey’s hooves. 
20.  Fold the laundry that has been sitting in the dryer all week.
21.  Write my daily Scintilla prompt (they have been fun, and a stretch) for this blog.
22.  Roast and pickle the beets that were in the CSA basket.
23.  Mist my tomato plant seedlings in the greenhouse.  Hope that the weather stays cool so they don’t fry while we are gone for the weekend.

White Hot Anger

Talk about a time when you lost your temper.

I am a pretty calm and even tempered person.  I don’t lose my temper very often.  I get annoyed, of course, and I occasionally get angry but I rarely fall into the white hot rage that I associate with losing your temper. 
When I was a child, I had a strong sense of justice and if I felt something was unfair or that someone was being unfairly punished, I jumped right in to come to their defense – wanted or not.  This behavior was not popular with my father.  I would confront him if I felt he was being overly severe with my brother and sister.   He did not like to be questioned in any area, but especially not when it came to his parenting skills.  So, I eventually learned to swallow my pride and choke back the words and ignore things with him; for the most part.  I loved my dad and I wanted to feel that I was special to him so I buried my critical thoughts.  As I got older, that became more difficult.  When I was in high school, we worked around the problem by not speaking to each other about matters other than the most mundane.  Most conversations were routed through my mother who acted as mediator.  To this day, she is the only person who can question my father’s decisions or demeanor.
After high school, I ended up going to the same university as the one where my father was a professor.  I didn’t go there because he was there, it just happened to be a school that had a strong animal science program.  He taught electrical engineering so, at first, our paths never crossed on campus.  I was on the women’s swim team and in my second year, he became the faculty advisor to the men’s swim team.  He didn’t go to workouts (both teams worked out at the same time) but he did go to some of the swim meets. 
I vividly remember an “away” meet we had in San Diego.  We didn’t take a bus but all drove down in a big convoy.  I had some of the team members in my car and my father had some in his.  When we got to San Diego, the teams gathered together before going into the pool area.  My father walked up to me and, in front of the entire men and women’s swim team, rode me up one side and down the other for tailgating on the freeway – and then took away my car keys.  I was embarrassed beyond belief, mortified and angry.  But I knew better than to say anything in response.  I swallowed it like always.
Two years later, we were celebrating my birthday at home.  In the middle of dinner, my father made some remark about his exceptional abilities as a parent.  I must have made a face because he asked me to explain my expression.  I said he wasn’t always perfect and had made a few mistakes.  He asked for an example.  I recounted the swim meet incident and suggested that it would have been better if had disciplined me in private instead of embarrassing me in front of the whole team.  He became enraged and started yelling at me, saying I knew nothing and that I was wrong.  I yelled back.  I went into that hot white place and all those years of injustice and suppressed injury came flooding out of my mouth.  My mother left the table in tears and locked herself in my parents’ bedroom.  My younger brother ran down the hall after my mother, to protect and comfort her.  My sister sat at the table, stunned.  My father continued to rant and rave.  At some point, I found myself standing outside, leaning against the side of the house and breathing hard. 
We never spoke of the incident again in the family.  I graduated and moved away.  My relationship with my father is still difficult and it always will be.  I limit the time I spend with him – I can feel the white hot anger within me when he treats family members rudely and I don’t want to lose my temper with him again. 

Day 8. Friends

Day 8.

Who was your childhood best friend? Describe them–what brought you together, what made you love them. Are you still friends today?

My best friend was Janice.  In elementary school, she was a Girl Scout and I was a Camp Fire Girl so we didn’t run in the same circle of friends.  At recess, I spent my time out in the big field, behind the hardtop playground, jumping over wild mustard plants.  I was a horse and the mustard were jumps and I spent my time cantering around my imaginary wilderness.  One day when we were in the sixth grade, Janice approached me and asked if she could play horses with me.  We quickly became the best of friends, continuing our cantering at her house or mine after school.  I preferred going to her house because she had a small dog named Bullet.  The two things I wanted most were a horse and a dog.  Neither of us had a horse but she had a dog.  She also lived at the base of the foothills, on one of last streets before the mountains rose steep and rugged.  We would take Bullet for walks in the hills, swim in the pool at the end of her street, and dream about horses.

When we were in high school, we hit the jackpot.  A friend of her older sister left town for college, leaving behind … her horse!  She offered to let Janice ride the horse in her absence.  The horse, Nedra, was a little strawberry roan Quarter Horse and was boarded up a winding road on Bluebird Hill.  The family that owned the property had two horses of their own.  A mare, Charco, and her colt.  Charco wasn’t being ridden as the family’s kids were grown and gone.  They offered to let me ride Charco whenever Janice rode Nedra.  Janice and I were in heaven.  Everyday after school we headed up Bluebird Hill to ride Charco and Nedra.  Charco was a Quarter Horse/Arabian cross and a beautiful grey.  She was opinionated and tried to dump me as much as possible.  I loved her with every fiber of my being.  Janice and I rode bareback because we had no idea of how to saddle a horse.  We would jump the horses in their pasture, ride in the hills, and race across the plateau.

When Nedra’s owner returned and Janice no longer had access to a horse, I continued to ride Charco on my own.  I don’t think Janice minded — she had a serious boyfriend by then.  When we graduated from high school, she married that boyfriend and eventually moved with him to the other end of the State.  I went off to college.  We stayed in touch, but our lives were suddenly very different and we drifted apart.  Although we aren’t close now, my memories of those days racing across the fields with the wind in our hair, crouching low with my cheek against Charco’s neck, urging her to go faster, feeling her muscles beneath my legs as we flew — those memories are gold.

Day 6. Faith

Talk aboutan experience with faith, your own or someone else’s.
I have been fascinated by faith from a very early age. I didn’t come from a religious or spiritual family but I was always curious about different faith traditions. My family was protestant in its background so those were the churches I first explored in high school.  For awhile, I was active in an evangelical home church which was kind of out there in its practice of tongues and falling to the ground and other prayer practices which, honestly, scared the crap out of me. I went on a retreat with the group and remember fleeing the chaos of the evening prayer and hiding in the girls’ cabin on my bunk.  
In college, one of my friends was Catholic.  We went to Europe together with a third friend, who was Jewish, and spent some time in Italy.  The Jewish friend wouldn’t go inthe basilicas and churches but I was fascinated and followed my Catholic friend around asking questions a mile a minute: “why are your kneeling like that?  What’s with the holy water?  Why can’t you go up on the altar?”  But I also experienced a sense of holiness in those ancient churches that I hadn’t felt anywhere else.  
I started reading Hans Kung and my fascination with Catholicism grew.  I had no idea there was such a diversity of people and practice within the faith.  In my late 20s, I took classes to learn more. I asked the priest “Why do you believe Mary was a virgin?  Is sex so bad?  What’s with this business about saints? Purgatory….Get real.”   — I ended up converting to Catholicism.  I didn’t get answers to all my questions and, honestly, does anyone really know for sure about any of that stuff?  But, I loved the liturgy and the history and the feeling of holiness that surrounded me in the churches and cathedrals.

Day 5. Talk about a time when you got away with it.

Lordy, Lordy.  I spent five years of my life getting away with it; or thinking that I was anyway.  What do you do when you fall madly, passionately in love with your swim coach?  When the way he arches one eyebrow in question makes your breath shallow; when the touch of his hand on your bare arm leaves the faint smell of him and you don’t want to bathe and lose it; when he kisses you and then has to hold you up because your knees give out; when you are a university student with no money and he is a cop with no money – because he has a wife and children to support.  What do you do? 
If you want to be together, you have to be creative.  We wrote each other long letters and spent hours on the phone.  We shared the same hopes and dreams so that is what we did best: hope and dream.  But the passion wasn’t willing to wait for some future promise of fulfillment.  I was living at home, going to a local university, so I had to deceive my parents.  Suddenly, I was spending a lot of time with my best friend, or so I told them.  In reality, I was off hiking in the mountains.  We would carry a picnic of bread, cheese, wine and the all important quilt.  We would meet in the strawberry fields at midnight and the smell of strawberries on the summer air would surround us.  The quilt went many places: the football field, the baseball field scoreboard, the beach and the desert.  There were a few times that a police car spotlight would shine on us – the time we were on top of a picnic table in a park was particularly memorable because I got my panties back on in such a hurry that they were backwards, inside out, and both my legs were scrunched through one leg hole.  I had to hop back to the car.
Somehow, we were never arrested or caught by my parents.  We were eventually found out, of course, but we got away with it for years.

Day 4. My Childhood Bedroom


The prompt: Talk about your childhood bedroom. Did you share? Slam the door? Letsomeone in you shouldn’t have? Where did you hide things?

My bedroomwas on the north side of home, with a window facing the San Gabriel Mountains.   I looked at the mountains every morning whenI woke up.  In the spring they were velvet green, in the summer and fall barely visible through a haze of smog,and in the winter stark, brown, with sharp points and corners. 
The window was large, with a crank handle for opening it and a screen that was loosely attached.  When I was small, the shadowsfrom the streetlights on the plants outside my window played on the wall opposite my bed and frightened me a bit. At Christmas time, I would lie awake in my bed looking up at the eaves and the Christmas lights strung there. Once, I thought I heard sleigh bells. When I was older, I watched out the window for my boyfriend so I could sneak out of the house; once it was through that window.
My sister’sroom was built onto our house.  It was added by knocking out one of my walls so, although we had our own space, there was no wall between our rooms.  She entered her room through the hallway door that was on my side.  My clothes hung in the shared closet on her side.  My sister and I weren’t particularly close although I was just a year older than her.  We didn’t fight much, we just had different interests.  We created our own imaginary wall between the rooms, not crossing into the other’s space except when necessary.
The rooms were painted a pale yellow which made them seem bright despite facing the shady side of the house.  We had matching bedspreads, made by our mother, with bright yellow daisies.  I had shelves reaching almost to the ceiling along one wall.  On them, I had a record player and my albums lined up neatly: John Denver, Neil Diamond, America, Bread, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Beach Boys.  The remaining shelves were full of books and Breyer horses.  I spent more time in my room than with the family. I preferred my horses, music and books over watching TV.  I would sit on the floor with my back against my twin bed, and a spiral notebook balanced on my thighs.  I wrote poetry and short stories (really awful short stories about love and horses), carrying the notebook with me to school and scribbling in it constantly. 
I still prefer horses, music and books over TV.  Today, I live in the mountains with our horses. I spend my evenings curled up with a book, reading blogs or writing poetry.   I am still very much that quiet girl in the sunshine colored room gazing at the mountains.