Despite not having posted for over 3 months(?) or so, I just realized that more people are following my blogs. I’m a little bemused/confused as to how that happened, but I’m glad that people still find this interesting.
So…there’s a lot of catching up to do. First off - I have officially completed one year of academic study at Williams. Yay! I think I may have found my calling in art history - I still can’t write a decent essay but I definitely love reading about it. Plus, I did much better than I expected so I suppose that may be another reason…
But anyways. Academic news is boring to everyone else except me. So to get to the heart of my life (so far), here’s a breakdown:
1.) If you consider horseback riding a sport (and it definitely is), then I have become an athlete.
2.) I’ll never want to be a teacher because even though I love children, my tolerance for them will not last longer than one week, with just an hour exposure each day (1 hr/day for 1 week).
3.) I have become amazingly inventive with finding recipes and cooking with cheese.
4.) My hair now (almost!) reaches my shoulders.
Now for the explanations:
1.) I have loved horses since I was 6 years old. (Or somewhere around that time.) My mother never capitulated to my horseback riding obsessions though - until now! I’m not sure why she has finally conceded, beyond the possibility that she has realized that I would somehow or another learn how to ride. Not that I ride well yet…but at least I know how to slow trot, post at a fast trot, canter, pivot, sidepass, reverse arc, collect, extend, and ride without stirrups (without falling off! *knock on wood*). I literally went riding almost every day for the last two weeks of June (which I’ve affectionately labeled as a “crash course in riding”). I was incredibly sore for the first week but now I’m immune (I think) to the chafing, bumpiness, and pure balancing act that involves sitting in an English saddle (To begin with, an English saddle doesn’t have anything you can hold on to. You basically pray that you’d manage to remain seated on your horse and that you’d fall onto your horse’s neck if you lose control.)
A few days ago I started lessons with a new trainer. (I was in Ukiah - 2 hours north of where I’m at now - for a two week crash course on riding while simultaneously volunteering at my sister’s Buddhist monastery school’s summer camp. Since it’s not really reasonable for me to drive 4 hrs+ back and forth to see my trainer there I’ve found a new one in Castro Valley). The riding academy I’m currently attending is definitely a lot more formal than the one I went to in Ukiah (they had a Western riding arena there but luckily an English riding instructor as well). This one has a covered arena - which I was glad to see as I don’t like being under the sun. Besides, I’ve been radiated enough…I don’t think I need any more exposure. Anyways, my new trainer discovered that I’m still not balanced in the saddle - a factor I’m going to conveniently blame on the fact that I had to borrow boots (that were much too large for me) and thus I couldn’t get a proper hold of the stirrups while posting. So I’m going to work on posting some more while on a lunge line for the next lesson (next Wednesday) and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up where I’d left off soon enough. I’m glad I’ve finally gotten my riding fix - having gone riding for almost every day the last two weeks, it’d felt weird not having gone riding for a while.
But my mom (and dad) bought me field boots, breeches, and a bag (to put all my new riding equipment/apparel in) today and I’M SO HAPPY. It’s kind of ridiculous how much I love them (and riding in general) because now I can’t shut up about it…as you could probably tell by how much I’ve devoted to writing about it.
2.) So to explain another significant part of my summer, my crash course in riding coincided perfectly with my two weeks of volunteering at camp…specifically my little sister’s Buddhist monastery’s school’s summer camp. I really didn’t want to go at first - but later I figured that it’d be a good opportunity to contribute back to the community (and go riding as well)! I taught craft lessons, dance lessons to K-1 kids, and cooked for them as well. It was fun chilling with the counselors, but except for some exceptions…I didn’t like the campers.
Many of the campers irritated me. Perhaps that was due to the fact that some didn’t say “please” or “thank you.” Call me old-fashioned, but after slaving for 2-3 hours+ in the kitchens to make their twicebakedpotatoesnachoshomemadetortillachipschocolatedippedpretzelschocolatepuddingetc. snacks every day in addition to dinners on the weekend…I’d like to be acknowledged for the hard work I’ve done. Instead, I had empty plates thrust in front of me with some loud, obnoxious campers demanding “more” with their first servings since I hadn’t “given them enough.” ACK! I was also a little peeved that some of the campers often took more than their share…and thus the counselors had almost nothing left. Later I wised up and I just divided the portions - one for the campers and one for the counselors. I only love cooking/baking because people appreciate the effort I’ve put into it. I don’t like serving people who think that I’m there to cater to their every wishes because honestly I could have just said fuck it and let them go eat in the dining halls instead.
In addition to cooking duties, I also taught Bollywood dancing to K-1 kids for 30 minutes each day. I suppose I’m not the most qualified, given that I’ve joined Dance Dhamaka for less than a year and have never had any formal training…but little kids can’t really remember complicated choreography so it was all right. Besides, patience is a lot more essential than dance experience when it comes to teaching little kids…those little monsters suck up a LOT of energy. Half the time I spent “teaching” was spent defusing fights, getting them to pay attention, and trying not to go crazy. It’s not that I dislike kids. I just tend to not like them as much after…oh let’s say about an hour. They are adorable and cute and all, but they are a lot less adorable when they are screaming and yelling and running around. By the end of the week, I was tired…even though I still had one more week to go. I don’t understand how K-1 teachers stay sane. I had to drag myself to the classroom to teach them. I don’t even think I ever had the entire class’s attention except for the first 10 minutes on the first day I taught them. More than once I had to check myself before erupting into a volcano of fury. I was terribly frustrated by the fact that some of the kids wouldn’t listen. However, I also had the experience (thanks Girl Scouts summer camp) to realize that the best way to resolve the issue was to plow on with the agenda and ignore these distractions because eventually, the kids would realize that they had to get with the program. Anyways, somehow I got the kids to learn 2 minutes of choreography in 8 30-minute sessions…which is a miracle, I consider, in itself.
However frustrating it was to teach/cook *for* campers (I just realized that I wrote “cook campers” instead of “cook *for* campers”), it was really fun bonding with the counselors. Most of them were/are my little sister’s classmates, so it was nice getting to know them better. They’re also the reason for why I had a positive experience with camp (in addition to riding) in the end. It’s a really tight-knit community there, so I was honored to be included into their circle.
3.) Because I had to make snacks/dinner for the camp, I tried to use as many ingredients on hand as possible to minimize costs. One such ingredient, as you may have already guessed/known, was cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. I had never seen so much cheese in one fridge at once. I was overwhelmed. What could I make to get rid of all that cheese?! There were 6 2-lbs containers of ricotta. Pounds of cheddar. Pounds of American cheese. Pounds of all these different types of cheese I’d never seen before. I tried to incorporate as much cheese as possible into lasagna. I had grilled cheese sandwiches every day (which I didn’t mind because I love grilled cheese). I made twice-baked potatoes…which was more like twice-baked cheese with potatoes because of how much cheese was in it. I made cheese bread. I made nachos with homemade tortilla chips (old tortilla strips brushed with oil and sprinkled with salt in the oven at 350 degree F for 10-15 minutes). Many of the counselors were international students from Asia who aren’t used to eating cheese. They were aghast by all the cheese I used, at one point exclaiming: “Cheese every day?!” Luckily they still devoured everything I made. Also fortunate: I didn’t get sick from eating/baking/cooking with all that cheese
4.) While I still can’t put my hair up, my hair has definitely reached my shoulders! I still can’t believe that it’s taken a year for it to grow to this point though…now I believe that one youtube video I saw of this girl who’d gone through chemo and had to wait TWO YEARS to grow out her hair again. However, I hope that when I return to Williams, I can maybe put it into a semi-ponytail or something. (Or maybe it’d even be long enough for me to curl a tiny bit??) It’s still strange having wispy, fine hair - the only benefit of it (once it grows out) might be that I’d no longer have to use an entire can of hairspray to keep curls in place. My old hair was too thick and heavy to curl effectively… I used to feel as though I was singeing my hair rather than curling it because it’d take up to a minute to curl a single strand with a curling iron. I’m looking forward to having my hair grow out. It was nice getting a “change” of hairstyle, but I’d like to trade my “edgy” and “modern” short hair for the softer, feminine look I’m more accustomed to.
Anyways, I’ll try posting on a more regular basis so that way I wouldn’t have to condense everything into such a long post.