19 October, 2010

There are days when I hate how quickly horses can wriggle their way into your heart. Today is one of them.

For those of you who don't know this, I'm really into horseback riding. Besides the exercise it provides both me and my equine partner (because yes folks, horseback riding is a sport.), it never ceases to fascinate me how close a bond a rider can form with his/her horse.

There's a horse at my barn named Bates. He's the sweetest thing on four legs. He loves people, and he loves to snuggle. He's not too old, maybe about sixteen or so, but he looks it. Bates is very skinny, despite eating nearly half a bag of senior feed every day, and no one can figure out what's wrong with him. Beth, his owner, got him from someone who was going to euthanize him four years ago, and she's worked hard to make him get better since. But in the past month or so, Bates' kidneys have been starting to fail him, and he hasn't been able to go outside with the other horses at all because he gets too cold, even with a big warm blanket over him. Bates is being put down today, and as I finished chores for the morning, I saw a few cars pull up at the lower barn. Some girls from Beth's high school riding team had skipped school to come and say goodbye to their friend. One in particular has been his only consistent rider since he's been at Stoney Brook. She loves him so much, though he's not pretty, though he's out of shape, though he's a mess in the ring. And he loves her too.

So here's to Bates, the cuddliest horse I have ever met. I'll miss you, buddy.

17 October, 2010

A Shakespearean Tragedy Under Waterloo Bridge

A prose poem I wrote a few weeks ago in my Creative Writing class, it's about an open-air used book market under a bridge in London. It was right next to the National Theatre, and whenever I went to see a show for class, I always stopped by and pored over the rows of tables, full of old books. Old books are my favorites, because I feel like they tell a story that's not written in the pages.

A Shakespearean Tragedy Under Waterloo Bridge

The thick, leatherbound cover is scuffed in places, and a long diagonal rip along the spine cuts William Shakespeare's name neatly into two halves, like the peanut butter and banana sandwiches I ate for lunch when I was a kid. The gold gilded edges of the pages have faded in places, and when opened the book lets off an earthy, musky smell, like wet dust or an old shirt that's been hiding in the corner of a damp basement for a year. Inside, the tissue-thin pages are speckled with mildew, creating unsightly freckles on the illustrations of Juliet, and chicken pox on the handsome royal visage of Oberon. I spot a muddy brown stain on a page near the middle, and idly wonder if it might be blood, if this book has borne witness to crime or adventure. The thought excites me for a moment, and only the accidental nudge of another customer, the polite, accented "sorry," breaks me from my reverie. The stain is likely just dirt, or perhaps tea. The book has not seen adventure or excitement; likely it hasn't seen anything other than the bottom of a closet or the inside of a trunk in decades. Still, I love old books, and this one is amazing. I look at the small, handwritten £10 on the inside front cover, and dig around in my pockets for a moment. I find a few receipts from Waterstone's and Tesco, a crumpled £5 note, and a few coins, both American and British. With a sigh, I place the book back on the table and venture out from under the safety of the bridge into the cold rain. The next day, before class, I hop on the tube, hurriedly weaving myself between the bundled bodies, and all but run to the market. £10 note in hand, I approach the table and search anxiously for the collection of Shakespeare comedies I found yesterday. But it's gone, taken, sold. It's having its grand adventures... without me.

14 October, 2010

Scrapbook of my Summer

I've decided to start posting some of my writing on here. As a nice segue from my travels to my writing is some writing about my Eurotrip. This poem was an assignment for my creative writing class. We aren't allowed to rhyme in any of our poems, which is frustrating for me, because I love rhyming and rhythm. But it's a nice way to practice descriptive writing. Anyway, let me know what you think.

Scrapbook of my Summer 

London England – cloudy, foggy grey, some half finished buildings surround Heathrow Airport. Ugly as hell, but the cool, clipped accent of the woman on the loudspeaker makes me feel almost as giddy as The Clash, conveniently blasting through my headphones. London is calling. 
Athens, Greece – modern, ugly buildings rise high, the graffiti no less ugly for being in symbols I don't understand, and suddenly before me, rising above the spray- painted concrete, is a cliff, and on top, the Acropolis, lit gold by lights against the blue-grey dusk. A stray dog scampers across Monastiraki Square. He uses the crosswalk.
On a train through Wales – a massive forest green lump of earth stretches into the low- slung blanket of clouds. Sheep dot the grass and the scraggly trees look fluid as we race by. The towns have names too long for us to pronounce, and we don't try.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, Germany – the empty gas chambers were nothing compared to this building, a squat concrete cube which still houses the sad stench of death even after decades. The ghosts of the bodies once piled in the cellar squeeze my throat, and I all but run outside to the sunlight and barbed wire.
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italia – climbing the steep hill and rounding the sharp corner, the rainbow of houses are a pile of colorful pebbles, lacquered to the side of the mountain, rising ever higher as though growing from solid rock. A padlock attached to the fence reads Amore Eterno.
Oxford, England – the canal extends before us like a long, muddy ribbon, edges lined with weeds, reeds, and houseboats. Painstakingly painted in now-tired yellows and blues, the gypsy vessels bob lazily, idly stretching against their bonds. We pass the sign of a pub serving green beer, the pub where Middle Earth and Narnia were born.
Buffalo, NY, USA - the plane touches down, six hours behind schedule. Half dead feet, still trapped in the red satin wedges that were much cuter at the beginning of the day, drag my exhausted body into the terminal, where I find parents, friends, a sister, waiting with open arms. On the way to the car, I walk headlong into the cold, hard glass of the revolving door. They laugh at me most of the ride home.

05 October, 2010

Just writing to check in.

I'm back in boring old Ithaca. It's much less exciting than London, but I thought I'd update this blog from time to time for anyone who still pays attention to it. Just for old times' sake, or something like that.

After getting home from my fabulous Euro-adventures, I spent my summer waitressing at a restaurant in East Aurora. I moved into a house on Ithaca's South Hill in mid-August, and now it's back to school with me. My junior year has begun!

Ithaca's been awfully cold and rainy lately, with the exception of this weekend, which was beautiful and allowed my family to come visit me for the day. We went to Applefest, an annual Ithacan festival, and I showed them my house and the barn where I've been working.

School itself has been rough, especially after the completely different format of classes I got used to in London. It's a lot of work, and I'm getting far less sleep than I should be, but that's all part of the college experience, right?

In my spare time, I've been doing a lot of writing. I'm taking a creative writing course, and we have to write a poem every day. It's a lot harder than it sounds! Besides that, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up in November. Basically, the idea is for you to try and write a 50,000+ word novel in thirty days. This will be my second year doing it, although last year school got to be too much for me and I gave up at about 20,000 words! Hopefully this year will be better. We shall see.

I'm also co-president of my school's chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, a group that works for social justice and charity in the name of the boy wizard. It takes the messages and themes from the Harry Potter books, like love and equality, and brings them into the real world to make a difference. We've got a lot of really great things planned for our chapter, like a book drive (Accio Books!), some movie screenings before Deathly Hallows premieres in November, and possibly even a Yule Ball. We're also going to do work for literacy and LGBT, as well as some other really great causes. We're having a meeting tonight, and playing Harry Potter related games so everyone in the club can get to know each other a little better.

Anyway, I'm about to leave for class for the day, but I wanted to stop by and assure my poor blog I haven't forgotten about it, I'm just looking for a new use for it now that I'm not off having grand European adventures.