Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's WEG Time, Baby!

The Alltech World Equestrian Games started this past Saturday and I for one am outta my mind with excitement about it.  I mean, yeah, if you're a horse geek this is kinda like the Olympics crossed with Christmas and the advent of a weight loss pill with no side effects.  Seriously, it's THAT big a deal. 

What makes it an even bigger deal is that I'M GOIN', BABY!!!!!!!!!!!  Yup, no lie, I'm heading to Lexington.   Got me my plane tickets, event tickets, a hotel and a rental car.  That'll be me, the old bag standing on the rail with the 12 year olds as the riders do their course walks. 

I'm going with a barn buddy of mine.  Bless her heart, she's probably going to feel somewhat like the person who holds the balloon during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  I will try my best to tone myself down, but no doubt she will be subjected to incessant babble about the rider, the horses, their histories, yadda yadda yadda. 

My husband dealt with a very similar situation when we went to the World Cup last year.  Poor dude got a bit schnookered with that one.  Presented the trip idea as "How would you like to go to Vegas for your birthday present, and oh by the way, do you mind if we go the week of the World Cup?"  Horses are not his favorite thing (not even close, really) but he was away from home and the office, there were adult beverages and slot machines, so he figured he could put up with some horsey stuff. 

He was actually kinda funny.  Fairly quickly after the start of the competition he began picking out favorites, and some combinations he was not such a fan of.  I'm not sure at which point he began a running ESPN commentary, but he actually had some accurate calls.  "Nope, they're not going to make the oxer, he doesn't have enough speed to get over the back rail" was one of his successful predictions.  "She's so worried about looking pretty she's stiffing her horse in the mouth and doesn't have room to jump. That's gonna catch up to her," was another. 

His favorite horse and rider combo was Irish rider Darragh Kenney on the diminutive Night Train.  Joe's from a blue collar Philly background, and scrappy underdogs of any kind get his vote.  He loved the way that little horse with the intimidating name tried his guts out every round.

The best part was when I asked him if he'd mind getting me something to eat.  I was starving, but didn't want to go because some of my favorite riders were close to their trips.  He looked at me incredulously and tells me, "Do you realize Darragh and Rich (Fellers) are up soon and Beezie (Madden) is about six out??  Can you wait until they're done?  I don't want to miss their rounds."  Whoops, created a bit of a monster, didn't I?

I'm looking forward to seeing some more amazing show jumping in Kentucky.  Am also excited about spending time touring some of the bourbon production facilities -- just as a Quality Assurance thing, really, to make sure they're as good as everyone says they are.  I'm also planning to meet up with an industry colleague from Kentucky who is involved in Thoroughbred racing.  He's going to attend the opening of the Keeneland fall race meet and suggested I come along to see some of the behind the scenes stuff tourists normally don't have access to.

I'm fairly confident this trip will result in a big old dent in the credit card.  I've got some of my favorite vendors' booth nmbers marked down in my calendar.  There are a few hospitality receptions being held where I'm sure my purchasing power will be of vital importance.  I'll have to drink a lot of free booze to offset what I spend, don't you think??  Maybe I should call and warn them to set a little extra aside, just in case...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banner day...

It doesn't take much to make me happy, although my husband and boss might try to tell you differently.  Coffee, Oreos, (any kind of chocolate, really) my kids (most of the time) a long stretch of empty highway and a speed limit of 70 or more -- any of these things can do it for me. 

One of the things that can really send me over the edge of bliss is opening my mailbox to find one of my many equine publications.  I wait with bated breath each week for my issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.  The night my issue arrives I curl up in my snugglies with a glass of wine and read from cover to cover.  I've tried to ration it and read one article at a time to make it last longer.  I have about as much success doing that as I do rationing a bag of Oreos.  Just can't do it.  Hello, my name is Amy, and I'm an addict.

Some days are  better than good.  Some days I get a Chronicle AND a Practical Horseman or a copy of IDS International, the publication of the KWPN.  The only downside, if it can be called a downside, is that a choice is necessitated.  Do I read PH or COTH first?  Do I read one article in one publication, then one in the other?   I usually page through them, taking in the pictures and assessing the article summaries, and then decide which one to start with, and then alternate. 

There are even times I go in search of my fix, and I'll drop by one of the tack stores to pick up a copy of my favorite regional publications, Today's Equestrian or Horse News.  It could be worse.  Of all the things I do in excess, this one ain't gone wind up with me in a huggy jacket and my very own bed at Betty Ford's place.  Too much horse stuff does not equal a stint at the Betty, right?

And then there are the days beyond price....Those are the days where I find the trifecta, the Holy Grail of  equine publishing, in my mailbox.  Those are the days I get the Chronicle, Practical Horseman, AND the Dover catalog.  My husband will attest that by now I should have the Dover catalog memorized.  I can spend HOURS with the Dover catalog.  I make LISTS with the Dover catalog.  My Christmas list, things Sugar needs, things I want, things for the kids, things I will buy when Iwin the lottery...

I know. It's over the top.  What can I say?  My name is Amy, and I'm an addict.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Password, schmassword.......

OK, another rant in the offing.  On any given day I think many Americans feel they are about 3 tasks behind where they should be at that point in the day.  Perhaps that's why we freak out when we're forced to wait in lines, or are stuck in traffic, because we know how much we still have to do and how little time we have to do it in.  We can already feel 2 or 3 to-do's sliding into tomorrow's to-do list...

That's why senseless wasted time drives me insane.  Take mandatory password changing, for instance.  Clearly I don't do my travel expenses enough, as inevitably my password has expired by the next time I try to enter expenses.  I figure this out after about 10 minutes of futile typing, changing cases, cycling through any number of password permutations and while emitting a string of colloquial language.  (It helps me focus better.)

The wonderful thing (heavy sarcasm here) is that my work passwords don't talk to each other, although I think they are supposed to.  My understanding was that every several months I need to change the main password, which would change the other ones.  It doesn't, so now I have a new password, and have to remember the old ones, and what accounts they go to.  Give me a frikkin' break! I'm up to the Z in Alzheimer's, people!!!!!!!  Some days I can barely remember to pull up my fly (ask anyone, I'm THAT easily distracted) much less which password belongs where.

There are too many damn many password accounts -- why can't the evil IT trolls leave well enough alone and let me keep the same damn user name and password??  Are that many people really trying to access my work email, intranet, or Blogger account??  I just waited half an hour for my expense system to generate a new password, and then spent 20 minutes coming up with one it would accept.  Apparently you can't use any passwords you've used in the last 3 years.  Again, those would be the ones I REMEMBER. 

I finally come up with a new password I have a really good shot at remembering.  Did not expect the system to take it, as it's a string of my favorite cuss words that I use when am pushed beyond my limit.  I entered it, then had to re-enter it as the system felt strongly that I needed at least one capital letter and a number.  Added the Capital letter and number, still expecting to be rejected because of the graphic language, but at this point too annoyed by the process to stop.

Bulls eye!  Success!  And now, half an hour later, I can be productive.  I could have been finished with my T&E's by now, but instead, I've gotten another latte, spent some time on FaceBook, and therapized myself with a little rant here.  Still behind in the to-do list, but at least feeling a bit better about it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fasten your seat belts........

I'm blessed.  I know that.  Beautiful, healthy family. Roof over my head.  I'm employed.  I'm blessed.  I get that. 

Now that I've said that, I'm gonna go on a little rant. 

Who the hell died and made me responsible for the whole damn universe, at least as it pertains to my little corner?  I can barely walk upright half the time! Given that handicap, how is it that I am the only one who knows that the youngest child needs to take a shower after she comes home from a 2 hour soccer practice?  How is it that I am the only one who is capable of picking crap up off the floor/couch/counter/vanity/car seat?? More importantly, why is it that I am the only one who can SEE the layer of crumbs and other detritus that has accumulated on the counter/floor/vanity/car seat??

What set this off, you might ask?  Nothing unusual.  Same pressures that a gazillion other women face.  Trying to work a full time job and be a mom. (Seriously, now is NOT the time for comment about how we wanted equality and the vote. Not if you want to live.)  That, and my 9 year old's birthday party.

I was away most of last week on a business trip.  Had to present at our industry's largest conference.  No pressure there.  Add that to the stress of going nonstop at breakfast, lunch, drinks, and dinner meetings.  In the midst of all that my husband sends a text --"Where are you with Sophie's party?  Have you called so-and-so yet? Who's coming?"  This sent me postal.  Probably shouldn't have, but it did. 

He's the one at home, I'm in Dallas -- maybe he should be the one picking up the damn phone book and calling people! In all fairness he probably would have, but I would have had to have left a spreadsheet with names and phone numbers and I was a little preoccupied with the aforementioned presentation/setting up appointments/closing an issue of the magazine I work for.

From my hotel room, I send a ration of texts to my daughter's friends' mothers.  I make lists of things to do while I'm trapped on a US Airways jet en route to Newark. (Did I mention it's Thursday now and the party is Friday?)  On the way home from the airport I make calls to mothers that I couldn't reach via text, as well as the local dairy and pizzeria to set up the evening's refreshments.  I also call the library to have them set aside a bunch of  princess movies (Princess Diaries 1 & 2, The Prince and Me, The Frog Princess).

I spent Friday sending follow up notes to clients I'd seen at the show, and running around picking up stuff for goodie bags, refreshments, decorations, the ice cream cake.  I also frantically wiped down toilets, vacuumed  and mopped floors (Seriously, did no one notice they were STICKING to the kitchen floor??)

The appointed time came and went.  Eight 9 year old girls are louder than an entire stadium full of vuvuzela braying soccer fans.  They sound like a herd of Clydesdales as they run through the house.  They are messier than a platoon of soldiers. My husband had to forcibly stop me from following them around with a container of Clorox wipes.  He very wisely distracted me with a glass of wine.  Several, actually.  And he very wisely served pizza and ice cream cake, and cleaned up (mostly...at least the really obvious stuff). 

It's 4 days later and we've still not finished digging out of the carnage.  I've been picking the Doritos out of the couches, empty (or not so empty) pouches of Capri Sun out of the toy bins, and returning hair scrunchies/t-shirts/stuffed animals to their rightful owners.  Could I have saved myself some stress by planning ahead better?  Yes, but I challenge you to try to do that when dealing with U-9 travel soccer and it's variable time tables.

OK, rant over.  I've run out of steam.  Bless your heart if you've stuck with it this long.  And bless my horse (you knew it had to come back to the horse, right?) because after the merry go round of the last week, the first moment I was able to draw a deep breath was when I got to the barn, heard her deep rumble of greeting, and leaned my forehead against hers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Good Grief, They're Starting Them Young...

As if I did not have enough age related issues in my life (affects of gravity and middle age spread, random hair growth, memory loss) now I need to worry that at any moment I may be mowed down by one of the damn near fetal creatures that share space on the planet with me. 

Seriously, it started on the ski slopes.  All those motocross helmeted little amoeba-creatures sans ski poles that bulleted past me, causing at best momentary heart failure or at worst, immediate contact with the ground.  Then I see it in the pool -- 8 year olds swimming faster times than I did at 21! (Mind you, I maintain that's because I had huge boobs at 21.  For that matter, I had boobs at 8 -- maybe I should have skipped swimming as a sport altogether.)

 I can't even get away from the whippersnappers in the equestrian arena.  Not only are my kids barreling around, showing a decent amount of talent and jumping courses at what looks like breakneck speed with no regard for their Mother's health (I have a large supply of Xanax at the barn for days when I watch them lesson). Now I have to compete against pony-tailed, pre-pubescent future Grand National jockeys in the lower jumper levels.  I have to screw my courage to the bone, take a deep breath, and FORCE myself into the ring, a chorus of  prayerful imprecations (OHMYGODOHMYGOD) shrieking in my head as I negotiate the course, do my best to ride it according to the plan my trainer has devised,  and attempt to come out alive. 

As I leave the ring, hyperventilating and gratefully thanking all manner of deities that my life has been spared, I am inevitably passed by some be-ribboned and bowed 8 year old whiz kid on her freakishly fast pony.  Gasping for air, I watch as the adorable little future USET member speeds around the course at Mach 1 (and no Alzheimer's fueled GPS moments for her, no sirree Bob!) and breaks the final buzzer on average of 10 seconds faster than my round.

As I can't prevent these precocious talents from entering the classes I do ( note to self -- put on big girl pants and start jumping bigger fences where tubby little Thelwell ponies can't compete) and I can't very well duct-tape them inside their trailers, I will have to resort to what all older competitors do when faced with young upstarts: MINDGAMES!  I've come across some motorcross helmets with modifications that I plan to add to my riding helmet.  These modifications will make me look fierce, and hopefully give the baby barnstormers a moment's pause, something that may slow them up a bit.  Something to make them worry that the old bag might be competition, after all.

In case you're wondering what started me on this rant, here you go.  A client of mine sent me this link to her cousin's website.  Jaxson is two, and is riding motorcross.  Not only is the kid SERIOUSLY cute, he's got serious talent.  I mean, let's not kid ourselves, most two year olds can barely walk, much less motocross.  Check it out the website: http://www.jaxonxtremeracing.com/.  Here's a video of the little tyke out practicing -- see where I got the helmet idea?!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Umm, ChaperOWNed, anyone....

Came across a term on my girlfriend's blog that seemed to sum my life up in a nutshell.  The term was "ChaperOWNed."  As in, I am in the Mom Taxi phase of this gig they call parenting.  As in, yes, my ass spends a LOT of time in the (thankfully heated and plush) leather seat of my car.  Sometimes it's for my job, but most of the time it's for my other job, the Mom job. The job where I am schlepping Child One or Child Two, or sometimes both, to various activities. 

In the not too distant past, I thought I had things under control.  Prided myself on having home cooked family dinners 5 nights a week.  How frikkin' delusional was I???? That was a blip in time, my friend.  Now I can barely find the stove, much less turn it on or cobble something together to actually cook on the hulking stainless steel behemoth.  I don't even want to tell you what my kids eat, though I will cover my butt and tell you they are vaccinated and taking vitamins.

Now I spend 5 nights a week driving the kids to riding, lacrosse, or travel soccer. Warning: If you are thinking of letting your child do travel soccer, or travel anything for that matter, think again.  You'd better like driving - a lot.  You'd better like soccer- a lot. You'd better have free time -- a lot.  Get the trend here????? And the odds that your little darling is the next Mia Hamm/Landon Donovan are slim to freakin none, so get over that fact and realize that your best shot is some pissant scholarship money to a second tier institute of higher learning.  Not that I'm bitter, it's just a simple math problem -- less than 1% of the population make it.  Really? You think your little Johnny or Jessica is that child? Pffffttttttt.) 

I bring the same amount of crap with me (books, magazines, laptop, drinks, snacks) to a practice as I do on a transcontinental business trip.  The only thing I don't bring with me on a business trip is my own chair, though the fold-able jobbie I take to soccer is a damn sight more comfortable than half the seats I wedge myself into on Continental these days.

Oh, and my own activity?  The riding thing??  That's becoming a fit in when I'm not out of town or dragging children all over God's half acre.  Thankfully the kids ride too, or else I'd be sending board checks and asking my trainer to kiss my horse for me in the Comments section.