In Case My Horse is Using the Internet Again

Hey, Toby.

First off, I miss you. I know you can’t quite understand that concept, but I do.

I miss you when I wander barefoot out to the backyard and the only thing that gets between my toes is clean sand. It’s not that I like accidentally stepping in your messes, but…clean pens just are wrong somehow.

I miss you when I eat watermelon and I have to choose between throwing away the rind and risking making the dog sick. I miss the giggles I can’t contain when you are so excited for another bit of rind that you drool the last one all over me. You’re obnoxious and messy, and dang it I just hate throwing away watermelon rinds.

I miss you when the sunset catches my eye and my mind jumps to riding into the sunset with the man who’s still a dream, and I know that I want to be riding off into the sunset with you in the mean time. But I can’t do that because the pens are empty and the trashcan is full of rinds.

I drive past our old haunts and I want to take another ride before life moves me on forever.

We finished the pens.


I know you won’t care, never did particularly care, but it’s something, you know? Something finished. Something that I poured time into and you tolerated. And it’s beautiful.

When we finished putting on the fresh coat of paint and I stepped back to take it in, all I could think of was that day when we were painting for the first time and Abbie grabbed my camera and took pictures of me cleaning the pen and it turned into us snuggling.

Attention hog.

I miss that.

I want to try to wrestle a hug from you, want to pointlessly beg you go let me take just one selfie of us. I want you to nearly push me into the feedbox because you’re starving and I’m not moving fast enough.

I want to run outside, because life is too hard but the stars are beacons of hope and your shoulder is strong enough to support me while I pour my heart out to the God who made both of us. How many nights have we spent like that? It’s so different at school and I just want you here because that’s us. Barefoot summer nights under the stars are us.

I just want you here.

I know that summer will end too soon and that we’ll be back at school together. I’ll be just down the road again.

But, Toby?

Summer isn’t the same without my best friend ignoring me from just across the paddock.

Lots of Love,
Your Person


Homecoming and Mud and Everything Else

It is currently 11:45pm and I am so tired that I can barely function. So what am I doing?

Writing a blog post. Duh.

Tomorrow morning’s gonna be rough. I’m just gonna call that right now. But, hey; whatever.

It’s Homecoming Week at HSU, so things are hopping around here. As if advising season and sorority/fraternity pledging season weren’t enough to fill the campus with general tumult, add in homecoming prep and daily activities and this crazy event we at HSU call “All-School SING!”

From a performance standpoint, SING is…madness. It is chaos. It is too much pressure and too much singing and a much coveted title of Champion.

From a technical standpoint, SING is…complete madness. It is utter chaos. It is too much pressure and too much singing and directors who don’t understand that we aren’t actually trying to ruin their lives when a cue goes wrong.

Guess who’s working SING Tech…?


This girl.

The one sitting at the house-left side of the booth in front of the computer, running projections.

It’s not an awful job, actually. A couple of the shows don’t even have projections.

And it’s easy to amuse myself, intentionally and otherwise.

Like, on Tuesday, I added one slide to a slideshow, turned to talk to the director, turned back and found that I had also added 236 additional slides besides the one I wanted. So that made me giggle way too much.

And today, before the show began, when the curtains were closed and nobody in the audience could see what was being projected, I found a picture of a baby chimpanzee and made him think encouraging things for the people backstage to see. That was fun.

So yeah. I’m amusing myself and getting paid and trying not to dwell on how tired I am or on the people who I’m letting get under my skin.

Aside from SING madness, it’s been raining here!

I love the rain!

I love to run around in it and splash in it and soak up the annual rainfall of Bakersfield in my clothes in the space of an hour.


I learned today that Toby’s pen does not particularly love rain. Or, rather, it does. Much too much.

My dear, hydrophobic horse is now living in a lake, ruling over his wet domain from two little islands. The water is at least four inches deep. Plus another two inches of mud.

I am very glad that I own rain boots.

And I am very ready for the sun to come up and evaporate the lake. Because Toby is not a seahorse. He’s a horse horse.

Really, if I’m entirely honest, life has been crazy and weird on all counts for a while now.

And by crazy and weird I don’t mean all and sunshine and roses.

I mean that lately there have been some grey-colored days, and on those days I am just grateful for people who come into my quiet to let me know that I am not alone and that it’s going to be okay. Hugs are sometimes the best things ever.

I mean that recently I have had spinning-like-a-top days, and on those days I am so grateful for people who don’t get scared of me and who keep up with my mad energy and join me in adventuring into all sorts of mischief. Camaraderie isn’t just a word I can’t spell or pronounce.

On Sunday I was ready to drop out of school.

I’m totally serious.

I was curled up at my aunt’s house with first my sisters and then my entire family, and there was not a single bit of me that wanted to return to Abilene to this drab little dorm room to resume my life as a student.

And so I didn’t return.

Or, rather, I put off returning until I finally left so late that I didn’t get back to campus until 11:30pm. I still managed to go to bed earlier that night than I am tonight. Oh well.

Life’s buzzing in my head, feverishly reminding me that there are a million and one things I want to say, but my tired mind is out of words and so I think I’m going to call it a night.

One final thing, though: Why does my hair always look nicest in the middle of the night?! For realzies! What’s with that? My only option is to sleep on a head of curls that will look frizzy and slept-on tomorrow morning.

So not cool.

– Melissa
A Happy Song

what if I rode a tiger to Morocco?

I don’t know what I want to write about tonight.

I definitely want to write.

I just don’t know what about.

I thought maybe I wanted to write about how if I got everything I wished for then the world would be a disaster, and I thought maybe I’d talk about how I keep a solid white marble that I tell myself will grant a wish so that I have to stop and think about the full impact of whatever it is that I think I want more than anything else in the world. But that train of thought ran out about 100 words into a post, and so I decided that that wasn’t the rabbit trail to pursue.

I thought maybe I’d write about today, and how I actually made it through a set strike at the theatre without hating everybody around me, and how it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d prepped myself for it to be, and how much I love being useful and skillful with my hands, but there’s not much to that, and really oughtn’t I get over how much I usually hate strikes and just relax and let it all go? Yeah. I don’t really want to spend several hundred words contemplating that theme.

I thought maybe I could write about my absolute yearning for affection, how it consumes me sometimes and makes me think that I would say ‘yes’ if a total stranger proposed to me on the street, but that’s just weird and it might make people think I’m serious about that and I’m totally not because I distrust people like nobody’s business and that’s the main problem here because I don’t trust anybody enough to let them near enough for them to gain my trust enough for me to believe that they actually like me. And even that is an exaggeration that might make people worried about me and I’m really okay but I just wish that Toby would hug me back.

So I don’t know what to write about tonight.

Buffets are an awesome idea, but they’re totally impractical for me because I eat less at a buffet than I do basically anywhere else, and then I feel silly because everybody else seems to be eating ridiculous amounts of food and I’m just, like, I finished two slices of pizza… Not that I think of eating as a competition. And if buffets are what give me the self-control to stop eating when I ought to, maybe I should live in a buffet. But it does feel silly to pay that much and not eat that much. Does that make sense?

I’m so grateful for friends. For people who make me smile and who call me just so we can hear the sound of each other’s voices and who let me be whoever I want to be. Even if that person does claim to be a five year old and does tend to be socially withdrawn. It’s so awesome to do life alongside people.

Shoes are kind of the worst, and my stupid Walmart flats gave me blisters on both of my pinkie toes today and I think that’s ridiculous but they were the only thing that matched my dress! Why can’t all the clothes in the world go with dusty cowboy boots? Or with neon pink Converse? I don’t get it! I think it’s a conspiracy to make Melissa as miserable and blistered as possible.

I really ought to decide on something to write about…

I got a text, like, twenty minutes ago that my family is finally in Texas and I simply cannot wait to see them! Tomorrow is Monday, which is ew because Monday, but I get to see my minions and my mommy, which is not ew because family! So it’s all gonna work out to be okay. They’re coming out to do the Texas family rounds (which is what happens when your mom is the rebel who moved away from the family homeland) and so that Gracie can hang out with her college-age, rockin’ awesome sisters! The three of us are going to get to go to a Tenth Avenue North concert on Thursday and we are so excited. Or, at least, I am. Grace is. Hey, Abbie: you excited? Oh wait. She can’t hear me from Lubbock. Never mind.

Would you believe that it’s only 8:59pm? That I am writing loopy circles (as opposed to angular circles which aren’t actually a thing) at the measly time of 8:59pm? This is why I go to bed early, people: I am insane 24/7 and night time makes it worse.

I’m…like…the opposite of nocturnal. Plus I hate mornings. Basically, if I can sleep from 9pm to about 10am, that is great. It’s a ridiculous amount of sleep, I know, but it’s fine. I like sleep.

If I had a super power, it would be the ability to learn anything by osmosis. It’s literally the super power of napping. How great is that?!

Oh! I have a white board and it is where I write my homework assignments. Because I would forget where my head was if it wasn’t so solidly affixed to my neck. Anyway, what the all-knowing white board has to say tonight is that I have three papers due this week as well as a test in Spanish! So guess what I’m doing? I’m writing a blog post about nothing at all! I’m also becoming increasingly spastic, but it’s fine. No big deal.

You know what will be lovely? When I can do dishes in something other than a tiny dorm room sink. Because worse than the tiny sink is that absolute lack of counter space. There is nowhere to put the things I have cleaned! So then I have to juggle them while I wash everything else, because putting them down only gets them dirty again! It’s difficult and I know it’s a first world problem and I am ready for it to not be a thing anymore.

Okay. Increasing twitchiness wins the day. I am going to call it a night and head to bed, early though it be. Too bad I never figured out anything to write about…

– Melissa
I apologize for the ads on the site, but this is where you go to play this game.

First Friday of Second Year

Cast lists went up today! Aaah!

I’m cast in one of this semester’s shows! Aaah!

Also, apparently I’m designing and running sound for one of them! AAAAAAAAH!

Yeah, I’ve definitely never designed the sound for a show. I’ve never run a sound board. This is going to be either great fun or greatly stressful or some delicious combination of both.

But anyway, I’m involved! I don’t get to stay in my room and be antisocial! Yay!

Enough with the exclamation points. Let’s be serious and boring and monotone for awhile.

Who am I kidding?! Life isn’t boring or monotone, like, ever, and it’s very seldom all that serious.

Except in funerals.

I cry in funerals. Even if I don’t really know the person. Just saying.

That has nothing to do with anything.

Can you tell I’ve had caffeine?

And not enough sleep?

See, people around here bellyache all the time about how gross 8am classes are. Honestly, I can’t blame them. I mean, who wants to break off a snuggle session with her pillow to go listen to a professor talk about something that would make a whole lot more sense in about three hours? I certainly don’t.

And, so far in my college career, I have avoided having to schedule any 8am classes.

Go me!

So instead I brought a horse. Who is now my 8am. Seven days a week.

He also is really dead-set on getting as many burs in his mane and equinely possible (see what I did there?) and it is driving me insane! I mean, come on, dude! We both hate having to stand there so that I can pull about a bajillion burs out of your lovely, flowing mane (which has gorgeous sun highlights from this summer, I’m just saying) and so you could save us both a lot of trouble by just keeping your stupid head out of the pile I have made of all the weeds I’ve pulled so that they wouldn’t be in your way while you beg for the other horses to love you even though they recognize as clearly as I do that you’re an idiot!

Too bad I’m timid about speaking my mind, huh?

Anywho, semester (all one week of it) has been good so far, with the exception of being so tired that functioning is hard(er than it usually is for me). I am doing awesomely poorly in bowling, so it is almost certain that I will have improved by the end of semester, because I can’t really get any worse. My computer applications professor should keep that dullest of dull classes interesting. And my theatre professors are some of the awesomest individuals on the face of the planet. Just saying.

Microsoft Word says that “awesomest” isn’t a word. Well you know what, Word?! I don’t care!

So I finally downloaded a game that I’d seen before but didn’t have the opportunity to get for free at the time—I did get it for free today, by the way—and it definitely kept me amused for a good portion of the day.

It’s called…Goat Simulator.

And you literally run around a town as a goat, destroying things and licking things and terrorizing people.

There’s even a way to make dead goats rain from the sky. I kid you not.

Definitely a waste of time, but I suggest it if you find yourself with a bit of time to kill between classes or something.

I think that kind of wraps up what I have to say.

I’m writing tonight from a place of (big surprise) exhaustion and (equally shocking) sugar overload, so I’m not really feeling coherent enough to tell you anything life-altering that I’ve learned lately. I’m sure there’s something along those lines that could be said, but it’ll have to wait for another day.

In the meantime and in between time, though, have a wonderful evening/morning/day/afternoon/whatever-applies-to-you and I’ll talk at you again before too long, I’m quite sure.


– Melissa

My Mirror Horse

Yesterday was remarkable.

The projected high was 88°F, and while I don’t know what the actual high ended up being recorded as, I am quite sure that the weather didn’t get any warmer than predicted.

It was overcast and breezy and there were occasional outbreaks of what we water-deprived Californians exaggeratingly refer to as rain.

Basically, it was impossibly gorgeous for June 9th.

As if the weather weren’t enough of a blessing, I had the marvelous opportunity to take a trail ride with my best friend in the entire world. (No offense to you two-legged folks. You’re awesome and all, but you don’t live in my backyard.)

Toby (my horse) can be an idiot even on his best days, but on our ride he kept the idiocy to a minimum and was mostly willing to trust me when I assured him that that terrifying noise or smell or whatever wasn’t actually out to eat him.

The pigs we passed got him riled up. But really. They’re pigs and they smell weird and they’re mostly lacking fur. Who can blame him for being afraid of those alien creatures?

Any time I get to go for a ride, it truly blesses me.

Because in my horse I see an unpolished version of myself, the version that lacks the self-control and the verbal skills that have been so carefully engrained in me.

And let me tell you what: if you’ve never had to deal with the tainted mirror version of yourself, you are both lucky and seriously missing out.

It’s humbling.

And also quite frustrating.

Toby gets up in arms about every little thing. Literally.

  • Yesterday we were frightened of a passing car. (Little car. Like, not quite Mini Cooper, but close.)
  • We were afraid of pigs.
  • We were skittish because of the orchard we’d been riding alongside for the past ten minutes but that suddenly became scary.
  • We nearly ran into a tree because we were so busy eying the house and driveway beside us. (Those things are pure evil, folks.)
  • We pranced at the sound of somebody offloading feed sacks.
  • We shied away from the wall because it was reflecting back at us the sound of the dirt bikes we’d already gotten over.
  • We were afraid of the dirt bikes.
  • We were nervous about walking on the gravel because it sounds and feels weird.

Most of these items we encountered are items we encounter on most of our outings. The pigs were new, the dirt bikes are rare, and the only place we usually encounter the noise of feed sacks is at home when he’s getting fed. Aside from those three, though, all of this should have been pretty normal.

But, like I said, Toby’s all about the drama.

Fact is, so am I.

I am afraid of the dark, of spiders, of insects, of being alone, of being in large crowds, of talking to cashiers, of talking to strangers, of talking to people I know, of talking in general, of fire, of knives, of guns, of dangerous objects that aren’t fire or knives or guns, of loud noises, of heights, and of driving.

I get anxious on a daily basis about things that, especially when handled properly, are extremely unlikely to hurt me. I let the ‘what ifs’ of life take control of my emotions and send me spiraling to places I’d rather avoid.

It annoys me to death when Toby does it, and I can’t get inside his head and change anything. Why do I approach the same behavior within myself with such a ‘such is life; can’t change anything’ type of attitude?

Toby is also exceedingly lazy.

Yesterday was better, but most days it takes us three times as long to go the .3 miles to from my house to the end of the neighborhood as it does to ride .3 miles anywhere else. Why? Because Toby doesn’t want to leave the house. Because leaving means working. Because working is hard.

Any time we get to a turn that turns back toward the house, my usually docile, doesn’t-need-steering horse becomes a tough-mouthed mule who takes every bit of natural and artificial aid at my disposal to get to continue in a straight line. I mean, it’s preposterous. We’ve walked this trail a hundred times; you should know that we don’t turn back homewards at this junction.

I should know the same thing.

How many times has that sister pushed that button? How many times have I responded inappropriately and had to deal with the consequences? So why do I yell at her this time and next time and the next time?

Why don’t I realize that the reason I’m struggling with this math problem is because I inadequately completed the last one and because I still haven’t bothered to properly learn the formula?

These are the sorts of things that go through my head when I’m applying leg pressure and verbally correcting and using my reins in the not-proper-riding-technique ways they teach you not to use unless your horse is being an absolute idiot the way mine is.

Toby points out to me my vanity, my impatience, and my lack of pliability.

Toby reminds me, as I struggle to remain patient, how much patience God daily shows me.

Toby keeps me humble, which is a remarkable feat considering my unerring tendency to be completely full of myself.

As pessimistic as all that may sound, I ended yesterday with a sense of wonder and bliss at the incredible blessing and opportunity that I’ve been given in this inexplicable bond that Toby and I share.

I would not trade yesterday’s ride for anything.

Well, maybe for a chance to join Mary in sitting enraptured at Jesus’ feet, but nobody’s invented time machines yet, and I somehow suspect that I’ll get that opportunity in heaven anyway.

Also, if you’re now kind of wishing for the chance to have a horse point out all your failings, I’m giving riding lessons this summer.

Now I think I’m off to bed. Because sleep is almost as beautiful as my beautiful, beautiful horse.

– Melissa
Lamentations 3:22-23

the post i actually got typed up (instead of just thinking about it)

Life is never planned.

I mean, perhaps your parents planned to have you, and maybe you even came at the time they were hoping you to.

(I was 10 days late, but born around the time of life that my parents were hoping to have kids. My younger brother was a surprise baby.)

But what I actually am talking about is our absolute inability to dictate how a day is going to transpire.

Sometimes everything goes right.

Sometimes everything goes wrong.

Sometimes life balances precariously in the middle of absolute disaster and absolute ecstasy and there’s nothing but the color of your lens on life to decide which way the scales are going to tip.

Speaking of scales, my youngest sister is learning to play piano and I wish she had a keyboard with headphones.

It’s how you view life that mixes up everything.

Today I got paid way too much to move furniture, far too little (in my opinion) to work a few hours at renovating a house my dad is trying to sell, I took a lovely (though belated and short) nap, and watched bits and fragments of rather uninteresting movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime.

Six months ago, today would have been a bust in my eyes.

Two months ago, I’d probably be curled up in a corner somewhere, trying to remind myself that things are never as bleak as I make them out to be, pep talking myself with the good that I could recognize from today and trying to reason that the good at least balanced out the bad and that today was at least counts as neutral.

Today, however, isn’t six months ago. It isn’t two months ago. It’s today. Here and now in the present.

Today, one of my favorite quotes comes from Owl City: “Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining.” (Which I think maybe I’ve quoted within the confines of this blog before, but it’s still one of my favorites so I’m going to risk redundancy which isn’t really a risk because I have no shame about repeating myself when I’m safely within the confines of my blog.)

Today, I’m fully capable of laughing softly at the misfortunes of today, of grinning joyfully at the unexpected pleasures of today, and of sending nonsense text messages that have very little to do with anything at all sensical.

Sensical is a word. Because nonsensical is a word. Because I say so.

I found a picture last night of a trio of meerkats, dressed and ready for a wedding. There was an officiating clergyman, wearing spectacles and clasping his bible; a bride, clad in a lovely dress and veil and holding a bouquet of roses in her gloved paws; and a groom, spiffy in his tux and bow tie and carrying a rather too large ring in his mouth. It is one of the odder sights that my phone’s screen has presented, but I find the nonsense of the thing perfectly delightful. It made my night last night, and continues to prompt an idiotic grin from me whenever I catch sight of it.

I haven’t really planned for most of what has gone on in my life recently.

Granted, I planned to come home for the summer.

Hallelujah, I’m home for the summer!

And I planned to spend time with my horse.

One forgets the possibility of being so sore after riding until she quits riding for almost a year and then suddenly resumes it with ferocity…

But I hadn’t really anticipated how much adjustment it would take—on the entire family’s part—for long-absent sister to reintegrate herself into the unique (and sometimes volatile) mixture of personalities and emotions within our household. It’s like a daily experiment, and because I never liked science, I never know which chemicals are going to make the other ones explode. Actually, it’s nothing like science. I just felt like saying that. On the bright side, I think all four siblings are on speaking terms with me at the moment. Unless I’ve missed something. Which is entirely possible—life seems at times nothing more than a mad scramble to try not to step on toes.

I also hadn’t really prepared myself for what an analogy of myself my horse provides. Granted, he always has reflected (quite clearly) all the worst parts of me in his stubborn insistence to do things in his own way and his ability to just barely toe the line while still asserting his control over the situation and other lovely tendencies like that, but so long out of the saddle let me forget what a humbling experience trying to work with a horse is. Particularly a horse whose poor training is entirely upon your own head. This summer is going to be a mad scramble to teach an old horse new tricks. Specifically, how to do some very basic maneuvers without grinding his teeth at me.

I have a confession to make:

Humankind is not as idiotic as I usually assert.

It’s only that most of humankind is totally idiotic.

I just keep meeting the exceptions.

I maintain this position because social media and news headlines are both full of records of people doing stupid, stupid, stupid things. Occasionally even my friends decide to dabble in mainstream idiocy and do stupid things. Me included.

But that’s an exception.

Just like the non-idiots are the exceptions.

Hear me: I’m not definitely calling you an idiot. Just vaguely alluding to it in a way that hopefully won’t offend you but will instead demonstrate my general disgust with the majority of society.

We should all keep ducklings to snuggle with.

Ducklings make everything better.

Except for soup.

Never put ducklings in soup.

That’s just cruel and unusual.

Life doesn’t go exactly as we intend it to. But whether the glass is half full, half empty, or full of idiots, God is good and, if you’re looking, you’re sure to glimpse that.


Watch this if you need a smile. Also, I can sing ALL of it, including the onomatopoeia and the too-fast-for-belief monologue.