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Today I was thinking about my Omens of Ill Fortune post and I realized that aside from my freshman year, something always went wrong whenever I was about to head back for undergrad at Sarah Lawrence.  More than that, it was a gradually escalating scale of bad.  You already know what was on the high end of the scale if you read the Omens post but in case you forgot, I have two words for you.

Walking pneumonia.

But my sophomore and junior year were similarly plagued.  Granted, the sophomore year incident wasn’t so bad.  The night before I was going to fly back I was cooking dinner and put my hand on a pan to get it out of the oven.  No glove because I’m a special genius who understands how ovens work.

(Still not as bad as when I put a towel in the oven because my brain told me it was totally normal, we always put the towel in the HEATED oven.)

So I scorched myself but I’d pulled my hand off fast enough that the skin only went a little red.  Thoroughly chastened, I put on oven mitts and and got the pan on the stove.

Where I then proceeded, not five minutes later, to stick my bare hand on the pan handle to adjust its position.

And yes, the handle is metal.

No, it hadn’t cooled.

This time the burn was not mild because I’d gone and wrapped my whole damn hand around the handle.  My palm got a taste of hell’s inferno right then.  The worst part had to be me just yelling out loud at myself as my mother looked on in bewilderment as to how I’d possibly made the same mistake twice in under ten minutes.

So I’d gone and done the cleverest thing possible.  I had a blister on my right hand not twenty-four hours before I’d need to be using it consistently to drag my suitcase around the airport and then later, you know, unpack my dorm room.  Awesome.  Wow.

Junior year a horse stepped on my back.

The story there is that Brego was still young and slight.  These days he’s a muscled-up freight train of elegance and poise (while still being a total dork sometimes) but in his early years he wasn’t the most sturdy.  You wouldn’t be either if you kept having dramatic growth spurts just as you started filling out.

It’s our last ride together and my trainer has us on the lunge line so she can control the pace of what we’re doing.  Everything’s fine, very routine, until something frightens Brego out of his skin.  Now I never saw what it was but according to witnesses a golf cart took a turn a little too quick and appeared.  Horses aren’t fans of things appearing out of nowhere.  To this day Brego does not like it when something loud and dramatic sounding happens behind him.

My experience goes a little something like this:

Brego leaps up and to the side, throwing the both of us off balance.  The lunge line is nowhere near enough to keep him steady and even though I had kept my seat, for sure wasn’t going anywhere, we were still tipping.  My weight at the angle we were leaning was too much for Brego to correct himself.  I had about a split second to figure this out and to then make the executive decision to bail.  I couldn’t think of a single good thing that’d be accomplished if Brego and I hit the ground together so I decided to take the fall alone.

This was both good and bad.  Good because a horse didn’t fall on my leg.  Bad because Brego still hadn’t quite gotten his feet under him and I was in his way.

Now, horses don’t want to step on you.  They flat-out do not want it.  No thank you ma’am that sounds terrible.  So when his hoof landed on my back he was quick to get it the hell off.  But even with just a fraction of his weight, that is a goddamned heavy animal.  My saving graces in that situation were how fast he got off me, the give of the footing I’d landed in and the fact it was my lower back so my spine had a little cushion around it.

So after checking to be sure I could still move my legs and getting levered off the ground, we went to the hospital and made sure nothing was broken.  They gave me a Vicodin pill that sent me on a ride to Loopy Town but no permanent damage to my back was found.  I lived on Advil for about a week to keep my back from screaming.  Weirdly, it never bruised the way I thought it would.  At most there was a sort of shadow whereas I expected a technicolor spectacular.

Then once I got back to school I had to move furniture so, you know, great timing.

Junior year was actually triple special on the bad news front.  First, my grandfather passed away shortly before I had to go back.  Then the last ride I had up where the horses live ended in catastrophe.  And then when I finally got home to pack up, Hurricane Irene canceled my flight.  Talk about a series of unfortunate events.

Then finally there was senior year with the pneumonia.  I actually can’t believe I hadn’t thought of how bad luck would smack me up the side the head every time I went back to school after summer break.  That might be a good thing, though.  I might never have gone on to grad school there if I thought there was some malevolent spirit gradually upping its game every time I flew back for a new year.

Come to think of it, I also always got bumped from at least one of my chosen classes so I had to scramble to pick a new one every year.

You know what?  I’m making a note.

Never do anything important in late August.

Ever.

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