Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Alabama Black Belt

I have recently become more and more fascinated by the region of Alabama called "Black Belt."

I recall studying about the Black Belt when I was a ninth-grader taking mandatory Alabama History, but I never went there and so of course it made no sense because, really, I was a lot more concerned about wearing Sebagos and having whammer! hair back then.

Now that I live in Tuscaloosa, and drive to visit my family in Mobile, I drive through 3 counties in the Black Belt and, I am not kidding, it's like being in a different country.

First, the architecture of many of the plantation and farm homes is magnificent, and quite the juxtaposition against the stark poverty that exists otherwise.

I blogged about the Quilts of Gee's Bend awhile back, and I suppose that would be the most vivid example of the Black Belt and how it moves me.

Lately I've been really wondering why I don't just conform and live in a big city where I can go to Starbucks and the theater and get a big Botox face and hate on everybody, but the truth is I am much more intrigued by the obscure, and always root for the underdog.

I started blogging as a way to clear a writer's block and put some form to my thoughts, and it has been a very rewarding journey. We write about what we know, and the Black Belt has provided more fuel to add to my fire.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Banana Republic

So Evangeline's is this really great restaurant here in Ttown. And when they sent me a request to be their friend on Myspace I was like, "Heck yeah I'll be your friend!"

Then they messaged all of their friends and asked for a fav martini recipe. Years ago I really got into martinis. This was when I also weighed 150 pounds and chain smoked cigarettes. At 26. I'm not sure I had gotten all the way there, but I was definitely on the Autobahn to "hot mess." Anyhoo, I pretty much like a straight-up vodka martini - dry to the point that it's really just plain vodka - with a few olives.

I did, however, invent this recipe and, lo and behold, I won their competition! If anyone says, "It's because you're the only douche bag who submitted an entry" I'm sure you'd be right but it would really hurt my feelings because in my world of Me, there were 5,000 entrants and I won. You see there? Me! The winner!

Anyway, I get a little bucket of prizes for being The Winna! and am going to Evangeline's tomorrow night.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Rolex!

I get so excited every April when the week of The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event rolls around. It is an annual pilgrimage for sporting horse enthusiasts, and this will mark my ninth consecutive trip to Lexington, and the Kentucky Horse Park for "Rolex." (I've been to Lexington countless other times for other competitions and visits ... in fact, I thought I was going to move there last year when I interviewed for a job.)

For the fourth year in a row Rolex will be televised on Sunday, May 6, on NBC. Watch it - it's really fantastic and you might see me in the background! Last year I saw myself when my friend Kim Severson fell in the water and retired her horse Royal Venture. As she went walking back to the barn she walked right beside me and we had a funny little exchange. Had I not had on my bright orange vest, I wouldn't have known it was me and while it's not, like, a SAG card or anything, it's still national television!

The roster looks a little light this year, which is sometimes the case on a non-international year. While the Pan American Games are set for August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, most of those selected will be from the Developing Riders list, as it's a 3* competition. Kim, who has won Rolex three times (a record) aboard Winsome Adante, is taking him to the UK to contest the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials instead. I have my fingers crossed for her. Badminton is the apex of three-day eventing and a win there would be tremendous.

Rolex is an opportunity to hang out with all of my good friends who share my passion for things equine. We have way too many Bloody Mary's, spend way too much money on tack and horse-related clothing (I had to go dig my Dubarry boots out of my horse trailer yesterday, as a matter of fact), and just breathe in the magic that seems to permeate from the bluegrass.

I can't wait!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Beer Night

Sometimes I forget to look on the door of my refrigerator.

Weeks ago I bought two big bottles of V8 and do you know they sat there for a really long time because a.) unless they're Bloody Mary's, I have a hard time taking that "first step" and drinking vegetable juice and b.) I never look in my refrigerator door? They did. True story.

I do love vegetable juice once I get going on it and, hey, these days I'm living life on the edge by drinking anything other than H2O so, score me!

What were also hiding on the bottom of my refrigerator door were 4 Corona Lights that I've had there since a horse show in October. I know you're all thinking, "OMG, beer can go bad," but c'mon, it's Corona Light, how bad can it get? At 150 calories, it's the most I can afford to consume. And that's the beauty of Corona Light. Tastes like piss but you can't really tell!

Still, I was mega-productive at work yesterday. It was a positively gorgeous April afternoon and when I pulled into my apartment a few minutes after 6 I thought as I drove in, "I'm going to drink a beer and take Maddie down to play by the river." It was so much fun that I came back and drank two more.

And then I ate a steamed sweet potato and some split green peas, and slept the sleep of lambs.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

सी यू संजय

Occassionally I have this dream that I have been asked to perform the National Anthem at a big event. And I find myself backstage, pre-performance, going "Wait a minute, I cannot sing ... this is going to be terrible!" Then I start to panic and I may or may not be naked and thank God my upstairs neighbors start doing it so I am awakened then must decide what terror is worse - a nightmare or having to listen to that.

The point of my story is that Sanjaya sucked and he had to go. Life is tough. Roll with it, Sanjaya. Rock your Gay Pride circuit this summer. You will have a career for at least a year or two.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ralph Hill

My friend Ralph Hill was seriously injured the last weekend of March when he fell from his Advanced horse, Reprint, at Poplar Place Farm near Columbus, Georgia.

I have known Ralph for ten years, and met him when he used to travel to Arkansas to teach riding clinics. We were all little beginner novice weenies, but Ralph made us feel like we could jump off the cliffs in Acapulco.

The initial reports on Ralph's injuries indicated severe broken bones, but apparently they have released new information that he has a severe head injury.

Having worked in specialized healthcare - brain injury to be specific - this news has hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, just an hour or so prior to Ralph's accident I had a lively conversation with him - one that was full of promise and hope. It had been a year or so since I'd seen him and we tried to catch up as much as you can when one is astride a big horse (read: 5 minutes maximum discourse time!). Just witnessing how quickly someone's life can change has left me feeling very small and, of course, very sad.

There are multiple fund raising efforts occuring right now, and I encourage anyone interested to visit and register to read "Ralph Hill." An official spokesperson is keeping the world apprised of his condition and progress, as well as things that can be done to help Ralph.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Moment of Silence

This story has me seriously gut-wrenched. I cannot describe how tragic this is and how sad I feel for everyone involved.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those effected. Their lives are changed forever, and for what?

Monday, April 16, 2007

शांति अशंगी

ऎंड इत वास जुस्त लिके
अ ग्रेट दर्क विंग
विथिं थे विन्ग्स ऑफ़ अ स्तोर्म
ई थिंक ई हद मेट मय मैच
शे वास सिंगिंग ऎंड उन्डिंग थे लासस ...

So I am playing around with my little Hindi transliteration feature this morning. See if you can translate it!

If it works, there is probably a tattoo in my near future!

Went to Chattanooga this weekend for an overnight visit. A dear friend from Mobile, who I've not seen in over 10 years, celebrated her 50th birthday. She lives there now, and we got to stay on her boyfriend's really nice big boat, in the water but protected inside a boathouse. Good times!

My friend told me, "I'll never forget that time you went shopping with me for that Mardi Gras ballgown. I didn't want to buy it because it was slit up the side almost to my hip, and you said, 'That's why you should wear it.' And so I did."

I have no recollection of saying this, but I also don't remember ever telling my friend Christie that she should only wear brown mascara. Speaking of, Happy Birthday a day late, Miss Christie Ann!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus In The Morning

So very, very, very ... I'm just at a loss for words.

You've balanced the fence for your entire career, and I think the ghouls from the Pariah side finally grabbed your ankle and pulled you in.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Binge Eating

I believe that acceptance is the first step to recovery. And I have come to learn that addiction to anything is difficult to overcome. It is one thing to say, "I have a problem with _____." But if you do nothing about it, or if you only 1/2 way do something about it, you're not really addressing the root of the issue.

I know this because I did, over 4 years ago, quit smoking cigarettes. And it was rather hard, but it was very different than anything I've done in my life because I was actively - acutely - aware of my addiction and I wanted to get better.

I am now having to tackle my binge eating problem. I don't binge eat very often. Because every day at my house I only have available Kashi Go Lean, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and some tofu. And that's what I eat.

But if you put me in front of a table full of food, particularly sweets, I will eventually cave. And if a little is good, then a lot is better, right? That was the case yesterday at Leadership Tuscaloosa. We had a really amazing meeting that focused on public safety.

Food abounded. And I partook.

I have to learn to say no in the face of temptation.

So now, off to shuck a fresh pineapple and, if you guessed 30 minutes of purgatory on my elliptical machine, you guessed right!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sweet Home Alabama ...

Greene County Alabama

So I went to look at a really old historic home tonight, down in Greene County (one county west). It was a bit more than I could stomach as far as a restoration goes (gorgeous house built in 1850) but it would've cost serious money to get it restored, even as handy as I am.

I did, however, look at its next door neighbor, 36 acres, and was pretty gobsmacked. These pictures do the property no justice, but it's very quiet and peaceful, with a lovely pond and a stream that runs right through it. It contains a mix of mature hardwood trees, pines, and even a great array of cedars. Plenty of room for a neat little sustainable home, with a small barn, and lots of turnout space for the horses.

Plus, I could finally have a properly seeded/turfed gallop around the perimeter of my property.
Do I want to be 30 more minutes away from civilization? I must consult the oracle. Stay tuned!

Keep Your Drink Just Give Me The Money ...

My new playlist:

1. "U & Ur Hand" - Pink - Bimbo Jones Remix
2. "Give Me Love" - DJ Dado/Michelle Weeks - Antigua Club Mix
3. "Glamorous" - Fergie - Explicit Album Version
4. "Wind It Up" - Gwen Stefani
5. "Say It Right" - Nelly Furtado
6. "What Goes Around" - Justin Timberlake
7. "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" - Jennifer Holliday - Original Dreamgirls Cast Recording

Off to elliptical! Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend. Mine was fantastic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Cadillac (Got That Bass In The Back!)

I used this headline in an email to my homeys yesterday, but I still think it's funny because while I always thought that was a dumb song, I cannot help but get caught up on its hook. Perhaps I shall add it to my "Hokey Music I Love" playlist that may or may not contain selections from Kenny Rogers and Olivia Newton-John.

Yesterday at Pilates we did a session on the Cadillac, which is this machine you see here. It's very physical therapy-meets-S&M dungeon, and quite honestly while I was doing the session I felt a bit like the tied-up bitch in the relationship. I honestly think if the divine Miss T would've asked "Who's Your Daddy" I'd have shrieked "You Are!" Fortunately she did not, and so I was able to save some face.

Did it stop her from telling me, in a way that wasn't even offensive, "You're entirely too sleek and elegant to have this pooch, we're going to get rid of this?" No. No it did not. We have addressed the pooch. It's no longer the elephant in the room.

I am in love with Pilates and I need to start a fund for my Cadillac. It's not cheap, but damn it's worth it. Please feel free to email contributions. I will video blog my pooch if you do.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Update: Project Clean Start

So far I've assembled 35 care bags for Project Clean Start. My amazing, amazing co-workers, as well as several friends, have really stepped up with the contributions, and I believe I have enough money to do at least 20 more. I'm going to take this big basketful to West Alabama AIDS Outreach this week.

Working on this project has changed me. Firstly, the generosity and willingness of my co-workers to support my project has moved me in a way that is difficult to describe. It's renewed my faith in people, and their ability to "do good," and it has prompted me to "pay it forward" for other requests and causes. For someone as self-absorbed as I tend to be, it's like I'm finally awakening, at 35, to what everyone has been talking about my whole life.

Does this mean, choke, that I should have a baby? Oh Hell no. Please forget I ever said that. Baby horse? OK. New puppy? Possibly. Little pink human baby? I swear I'm not on drugs.

Secondly, when I went to Wal-Mart on Sunday, and painstakingly placed all of the trial size items on the conveyor belt, my cashier wasn't overly amused. She looked at me and said, "Oh Lord." (We say that in West Alabama a lot. It translates roughly to, "Are you freaking kidding me?") I felt badly because, once upon a time, I was a cashier and that's a lot of inventory to move on one ticket. But, I pressed on because my cause is important to me, and there are no posted limits on how much you can buy.

Instead, I took the opportunity to explain the project to the cashier, and mentioned several of the types of agencies we were assisting. When I said, "domestic violence," she asked, "Do you see a lot of that?"

I said that I personally did not, but I knew it was a problem that many people face.

She quietly responded, "I needed one of these packages one time, but I had to make my own."

And then she shared a little of her story with me, how she had to fight everyday of her life, and eventually grew weary and fled. Her story ended positively - her abuser went to prison, though apparently on unrelated charges - and she found happiness with someone else.

But not without a price to her person. She said, "I am still haunted by nightmares. I dreamed once that he'd dug a hole and was going to bury me alive. And the thing that scared me so much was that it wasn't difficult to believe."

I thanked her for sharing her story with me, and she thanked me and my group for the efforts we were making. I'm glad I chose to explain why I was buying so many trial sized items.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For Sirius ...

I'm not sure if I mentioned that last weekend was designated Shopfest 2007. I was in desperate need of professional wardrobe sprucing, and while I intended to go to Birmingham to get my shop on, I wound up staying in Ttown because, well, because there is a mall here and Parisian is Parisian, right?

Anyhoodle, if you think I didn't get me some Sirius Satellite Radio during a walk-by at Radio Shack (I know right, Radio Shack, they're still around!), you're wrong! And thusly I spent 3 hours Saturday afternoon at the local "car stereo shop" getting it installed in Bullet Banzai, the Black Fit. (I've changed it's name; Banzai fits so much better.) That was an experience in and of itself. Got ghetto? Don't even go there. Nothing says entertainment like watching "The Bodyguard" on TNT, followed by "Erin Brokavich" and getting the continuous "Should have you ready in about 5 minutes" while eavesdropping on a phone conversation about some "Nassy bitch with her chlamydia rotten self." Good times.

I went full-on and bought the accompanying Boom Box as well. I figure it will be really useful for poolside this summer. I can also listen online, so, yeah, I'm covered on music and talk radio.

What is irking me a little is the FM transmitter static. Must determine cause. Must avoid car stereo place at all costs. Do not need a tweeter or a Rockford Fosgate or whatever those components that hold such allure for thugs and tools are. I just want static-free listening. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Late Night Hookup

So if the object of my affection is a great big strapping Thoroughbred, and I have the opportunity to go meet him at a gas station for 15 minutes of making out in the back of a horse trailer ... dude, I'm so there.

Such was the case last night when The Precious found himself temporarily in Tuscaloosa AFTER WINNING THE YOUNG RIDER PRELIMINARY DIVISION at Holly Hill in Shreveport, Louisiana.

His owner/rider, Ashlea, was returning home to Florence, Alabama, and had to stop for diesel. So I told her the best place to go, and met her at the station. It was fun to get to love on Rhodes. Even though I'd seen him last weekend in Georgia, I can never see him enough. I was Water Boy while Ashlea did fuel and "station duties." I was in heaven.

So Rhodes will do one more preliminary horse trial in two weeks, then will be upgraded to intermediate in May. (That is the plan.) I will be there for his OI debut, though I must admit I'll be requiring a handful of Xanax and at least one or two sips of a good Reposado tequila.