Archive for March, 2008

Horse Heaven

March 25, 2008

Picked up this book randomly while browsing at a going out of business sale at an independent book store in Hastings last week. Manny and I went to the store after reading an article about it in the NY Times, which said that after this store closed there would no more independent book stores in the entire western part of Westchester County, until you hit Peekskill, a town in the very northwestern corner of the county. We thought that was pretty sad so we went to check out the store and I wanted to buy something and saw this book about horses and decided to get it.This is one of those books that has a “cast of characters” list in the beginning with all of the character’s names and relations to one another. I usually hate these books that jump from one character to another because a) my favorite character gets the least attention b) my least favorite character ends up getting all the attention and c) I hate flipping back and forth in the book trying to remember the last thing I read about a character. But the characters in this book are all mildly interesting so I’m not favoring one story line over another. Plus its about horses which is enough to keep me reading. I was one of those girls who loved horses. I took riding lessons every Saturday for a few years, even jumped over some fences, but stopped around high school because I wasn’t competitive and didn’t want to enter horse shows and didn’t have money to enter horse shows, so what was the point of paying for lessons where the goal was to get you into horse shows? In high school I was a band geek so band practice took up most of my Saturday riding time.

But damn, when I was younger, what I wouldn’t give to be around horses all the time. To have my own saddle, to lease or buy a horse at the stable and just go ride whenever I wanted, this was my dream. One time after my riding class, my instructor asked me if I could stay and be a lead rider for the next lesson. The next lesson was a beginner class and all the students followed a lead rider around instead of riding on their own. So I stayed on my horse for the following lesson had a group of little girls follow me as I trotted around the ring and it was the best feeling in the world. I could tell the girls in the class thought I was one of “those girls” who just hung out in the barn all the time and rode horses all the time and knew all there was to know about horses. I felt so knowledgeable and important, being that lead rider. After the lesson I helped the girls off their horses and helped the barn staff clean up the horses and put them back in their stalls. It was totally one of the best days of my life.

 

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Favorites

March 6, 2008

when i read books like i really like, i keep tabs of my favorite parts. here’s some of things from Working that really stood out to me.

Eric Nesterenko, Professional Hockey Player (his section was one of my favorites, he is such an eloquent speaker):

It can’t be just a job. It’s not worth playing just for the money. It’s a way of life. When we were kids there was the release in playing, the sweetness in being able to move and control your body. This is what play is. Beating somebody is secondary. When I was a kid, to really move was my delight. I felt released because I could move around anybody. I was free. That exists on the pro level, but there’s the money aspect. You know they’re making an awful lot of money off you. You know you’re just a piece of property.

I still like the physicality, the sensuality of life. I still like to use my body. But the things I like now are more soft. I don’t want to beat people. I don’t want to prove anything. I have a friend who used to play pro football, but who shares my philosophy. We get into the country that is stark and cold and harsh, but there’s a great aesthetic feedback. It’s soft and comforting and sweet. We come out there with such enormous energy and so fit.

 

Mike Lefevre, Steelworker

 

 

I want my kid to look at me and say, “Dad, you’re a nice guy, but you’re a fucking dummy.” Hell yes, I want my kid to tell me he’s not going to be like me . . . I’d like to run a combination bookstore and tavern. (Laughs.) I would like to have a place where college kids came and a steelworker could sit down and talk. Where a workingman could not be ashamed of Walt Whitman and where a college professor could not be ashamed that he painted his house over the weekend.

If a carpenter built a cabin for poets, I think the least the poets owe the carpenter is just three or four one-liners on the wall. A little plaque: Though we labor with our minds, this place we can relax in was built by someone who can work with his hands. And this work is as noble as ours.

 

 

Roberta Victor, hooker

I was in control with every one of those relationships. You’re vulnerable if you allow yourself to be involved sexually. I wasn’t. They were. I called it. Being able to manipulate somebody sexually, I could determine when I wanted that particular transaction to end. ‘Cause I could make the guy come. I could play all kinds of games. See? It was a tremendous sense of power . . . The overt hustling society is the microcosm of the rest of the society. The power relationships are the same and the games are the same. Only this one I was in control of. The greater one I wasn’t. In the outside society, if I tried to be me, I wasn’t in control of anything. As a bright, assertive woman, I had a no power. As a cold, manipulative hustler, I had lot. I know I was playing a role. Most women are taught to become what they act. All I did was act out the reality of American womanhood.

Dog and Books

March 6, 2008

Meet my puppy, Leo. He’s pretty much the best dog ever and everyone who knows him agrees.
he’s my been my buddy this week while my mom is vacationing in california visiting her friend. leo and i have the house to ourselves for 10 days. so far its been really nice, except that i have to drag my lazy ass out of bed 30 minutes earlier to walk and feed him. but just look at that face! he’s so worth it. so its been nice living by myself again. go work, take care of the dog, pay some bills, buy some groceries, cook some food, do some laundry, wash some dishes – all on my own time. manny was able to spend a few days here which was nice and we cooked up some amazing chicken burgers with salsa. thankfully, its been a pretty uneventful week, with the exception of this minor commuting crisis that i was able to avoid because my awesome supervisor let me leave early and my awesome friend gave me a ride home.

anyway, I’m still getting through Working which is the most fascinating book I’ve ever read. its people taking about their jobs. we hear from policeman, firefighters, various factory workers, miners, maids, janitors, car salesmen, bank tellers, secretaries, professional sports players, housewives, flight attendants, stockbrokers, truck drivers, accountants, and a whole lot more. it was published in 1972 so the jobs have changed a lot since then but the issues are still the same. basically, you should read it. my favorite part was the section on bureaucracy. some employees of a federal government anti-poverty program were interviewed and they really spoke to the frustrations of working in a huge government machine where divisions and agencies are constantly reorganized and restructured but NOTHING is accomplished. one program manager got in trouble after they found out she was getting involved with union organizing. they took away all of her responsibilities but couldn’t fire her because she was a high ranking employee. so they gave her a paper to write about the economics of poverty which was due in 6 months to keep her busy. but she kept organizing for the union during her work hours and every time someone came into her office she had to shove all of her union papers off her desk. and she didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. she would write the paper a few days before it was due because she knew nothing would ever be done with it. she said:

It’s extremely frustrating. But, ironically, I’ve felt more productive in the last few weeks doing what I’ve wanted to do than I have in the last year doing what I was officially supposed to be doing . . . When you do something you’re really turned on about, you’ll do it off-hours too. I put more of myself into it, acting like I’m a capable person. When you’re doing something you’re turned off on, you don’t use what talents you have. There are a lot of people in our office who are doing very, very little, simply because their jobs are so meaningless.

Some of these jobs will appear meaningful on paper. The idea of the antipoverty program is exciting. But people are stifled by the bureaucratic decisions and non-decisions. When you’re in the field and get into sticky situations with politicians, you can’t count on your office to support you. You’ll be punished. (p 346)

You know when someone says something and expresses how you’ve been feeling so much better than you could, and all you can say is “Yes! Whatever she said, I feel.” Yeah, as a government employee myself, what Ms. Lilith Reynolds said sums it up for me. There’s really nothing else to add.