I’m so elite. I’m basically one of those ladies who lunch. I mean, the other day, I had to get up early to see my personal trainer* and masseuse**, and afterward, I grabbed a delightful meal full of berries***. I then had just a couple of hours to get ready to have a little work done — just a little injection to help my smile along*** — you know how it is.

Except:

*personal trainer = physical therapist, and my sessions don’t so much include the latest yoga and Pilates techniques as me laying on a table in front of 15 people ranging in age from 80 to 106 and lifting two-pound dumbbells while doing super sexy chin tucks.

**masseuse = massage therapist who has been working on my pterygoid from INSIDE MY MOUTH. I mean, I’m pretty sure you can share state secrets with me now. If I’m going to actually pay money to have that sort of torture done to me, I can withstand whatever some dummy in a mask can throw my way.

***meal full of berries = smoothie from the cafe at the gym because pretty much the fanciest meal I have these days is a smoothie that I don’t have to clean up after. Seriously.

**** little injection to help my smile along = injection of steroids into that pesky pterygoid muscle to, I don’t know, make it stop trying to kill me? Except, as it turns out, shooting it up with stuff actually angers it for a few days. WHO KNEW. So instead of the relief I had looked forward to (and oh, I looked forward to it), I’m now wincing at just the thought of trying to get my toothbrush into my mouth all the way.

Yeah. TMJ can suck it.

I know, I know, it will get better — and don’t worry. I’m doing All The Things in order to get there, and I’m mostly staying pretty damn positive. Trust me. Just needed to vent for a moment, you know? You know. I know you know.

Actual conversation that took place as Jared was preparing for a trip, meaning he was determining which movies to take with him, and, being the good husband that he is, he tries to take movies I have little to no interest in seeing. See why I keep him around?

Jared: Do you want to see The Adjustment Bureau? It’s the one with Matt Damon.

Me: Matt Damon, like, fat and with a mustache? Or hot?

J: …?

Me: I mean, it matters.

J: No mustache, I think. How about Unknown? It’s like Taken with Liam Neeson.

Me: But who does it have in it?

J: Liam Neeson.

Me: But Taken had Liam Neeson.

J: Yep.

Me: So, he did the same movie twice?

J: Do you want to see it or not?

Me: Again?

J: You haven’t seen this one.

Me: But … ok, fine. Yes. I liked it well enough the first time.

J: *eye roll*

I should probably mention that he listed, like, six other movies that I swear I’ve never even heard of. I don’t understand. I watch the television. I occasionally go to the movie theater. Is it that everything that’s not Harry Potter just fails to make an impact on me? Except I knew what Arthur was, because I love the idea of Helen Mirren and Russell Brand being all inappropriate and flirty during the promotional tour.

In a little under a week, I’m hopping on a jet plane and heading out to San Diego for the BlogHer conference. I’m totally psyched — I’ve had great experiences the last couple of years with meeting new people, hanging out with people I’ve met before (either in real life or online), and, occasionally, learning a little something new about what it is I do for a living.

I know there are a lot of people who are super nervous about BlogHer, and I get it — there are 3000 people there. There’s a lot happening. It’s, you know, big. Leah (from A Girl and a Boy) made a really interesting point about how we all kind of know so many people, and maybe know them well enough to know that they’re, say, into monkeys, but we don’t know them well enough to know the details about, like, their trip to the monkey sanctuary.

And again, I totally get it, but here’s my question: How many people do you think truly expect everyone to know who they are? I don’t mean that in a catty way, by any means — truly, I’m wondering. I mean, I don’t have a lot of traffic (although you know I love all of you who read! I do!), but I wonder if there would be a point at which I would expect people to start recognizing me. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that if I don’t expect to be recognized, I don’t stand a chance of being upset or embarrassing someone else when they don’t know who I am. I feel like that’s a nice place to be. And you know, even when I’ve been introduced to people I later learned were, like, Big Time Bloggers, nobody has ever made me feel weird for not knowing their names or blogs off the top of my head. I like that. (Especially since I have the memory of a goldfish and don’t really ever remember anybody, ever.)

Now, this year will be a little different for me — I’m doing some events and stuff for Clever Girls Collective, who I (love, and) have been working with the last month or two, as well as for Fit Bottomed Girls (also working for, also love). So, I’ll be meeting people on behalf of these recognizable names, which, you know, will be … different. I have to say, I’m excited. (Did I already say that?)

Anyway, if you’re interested in meeting up in San Diego, let me know! Here’s what I look like (although, seriously, I will not expect you to recognize me. I SWEAR.).

Okay, FINE. That’s what I look like when I’m quite drunk and a little sweaty and playing Charlie’s Angels. So, it’s pretty likely that’s exactly how I’ll look when you see me at BlogHer, is what I’m saying.

(Only I’ll be wearing WAY more eye makeup.)

So, are you going? Will I see you there? You can pretty much follow along with what I’m doing on Twitter. Follow me!

Oh, and let’s have a cocktail!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but once upon a time, I was a deejay. I worked at weddings, mostly, with the occasional birthday party or prom thrown in to mix it up. Like any job, there were things to love about it (getting to play music at parties, a nice little extra paycheck) and things to hate about it (lugging heavy equipment on a hot summer day, and terrible hours for someone who sees nothing wrong with being in bed at 10 p.m.).

Whenever I’m at a wedding, I feel a little wave of nostalgia for the days when I ran the party, but in general, I don’t miss it. In fact, until this past weekend, I don’t think I really grasped what I missed about it, but now, I’ve got it. It’s the moments the photographer misses.

Now, if you’re a photographer at a wedding, you’re focusing on the big shots and hoping to grab some of the fun stuff as well, but you can’t be everywhere at once, you know? And if you’re a member of the family or the bridal party, you’re pretty focused on the bride or groom or your dress. If you’re a really close friend of the couple in question, you might be paying a lot of attention to the details you helped them choose, or the other members of your tight-knit group.

But when you’re a bit of an outsider, like the deejay is, you see it all for what it is. You see the emotion flood across the bride’s face as she steps onto the dance floor with her new husband, and you see the way that changes when she dances with her father and then, her friends. You see the way the mother of the bride glows (or glares, in the case of some of the divorced parents I saw) as the father/daughter dance takes place. You see people letting loose with the dance moves, both good and bad. You see a groomsman working up the nerve to ask the bride’s sister to dance. You see the boy dance a song with his grandma and allow her to hold him close for a moment after the song finishes.

Last weekend, we were in upstate New York for Jared’s cousin’s wedding, which was gorgeous. And I didn’t bring my camera, since I wasn’t checking bags and had no room, so, naturally, the venue would have been exquisite for some great shots. Next time, I guess.

But, since I only really knew a small handful of people there, it was easy for me to sort of revert to my old deejay ways and really, really people watch. Man, I missed it. I caught those moments that maybe nobody else did, and while I don’t have the pictures, I remember them vividly enough that many days later, they’re still making my heart smile.

And it made me realize that it’s not only at weddings when those moments occur (although there are plenty more there than at, say, the movie theater). They’re all around us, all the time. And if they make you feel happy the way they make me feel happy, I hope you take the time to notice them.

I reviewed a sweet little summer read over at BlogHer — Karen White’s The Beach Trees. Below is a snippet, but you can head over to the full post for the real scoop on the book!

Culture shock doesn’t always require a passport, proven in Karen White’s latest book, The Beach Trees. There’s no other way to describe Julie Holt’s initial reaction to everything she experiences on her first trip to the Gulf Coast, visiting the hurricane-ravaged landscape and heartbroken family her best friend, Monica left behind but described in detail, both with words and paintings, until her untimely death.

Julie, a lifelong New Englander living in New York, attempts to put tragedy — her sister’s childhood disappearance 17 years ago and her best friend’s recent death — in her rearview mirror as she drives south to River Song, the beach house Monica left her in Biloxi, armed only with the keys to the home, which was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and Monica’s 5-year-old boy, Beau. For the first time in her life, she has no plan, but, she soon learns that Biloxi, New Orleans, and Monica’s estranged family have plans for her.

(Seriously, go over and read the full review. Go on, now!)

I accomplished my goals — I placed within my division, I finished with a time I was (mostly) happy with, and I was not eaten or even nibbled by an alligator. Overall, I’m calling it a success.

Kristen and Patrick at Moss Park tri

With Patrick, sweaty, dirty and smiling big.

One of the biggest challenges of this race, for me, was the fact that it was a 7:15 start in a location more than two hours away, and I had to drive down the morning of the race. Honestly, I never would have done that myself — that 3:30 wake up was pretty unkind, and, while a single (albeit very large) cup of coffee was just fine, I know that drinking too much coffee does Very Bad Things to my tummy, and when you pair that with nerves and then biking and running and no bathrooms nearby, it’s, uhhh, problematic. So a single cup of coffee it is!

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone. In fact, the main reason I signed up for the race is because my good friend (and coach, and inspiration, really), Patrick, had signed up for it and was moving to New York a few days later, so although we’ve done plenty of workouts together and talked extensively about races, we’d never actually done one together.

Of course, by “together” I mean he did it in half the time. He did win the damn thing last year, after all, and despite doing basically no tri training at all in recent months, he still placed 3rd in his age group and 12th overall. See? Inspiration.

As for me, I honestly did just fine. We ran a little late, so I had to rush through setting up my transition area in order to have time to hit the bathroom before the pre-race meeting. (Tangent — who else believes that a pre-race bathroom break is a non-negotiable? I mean, I would actually start the race a minute or two late rather than stop during the race.)

Unlike other tris I’ve done, this swim took place in a lake (hence my alligatorly concerns), and although the water was, like, black, and I couldn’t sight the buoys for the life of me (which turned out to be a common problem) it was a nice swim. Pretty smooth, and I love that half-mile distance. I was 12th out of the water in the women’s wave, which was a bit of a disappointment, but, hey, that’s what you get for not training, I suppose.

The bike took a challenging but interesting route, through neighborhoods and with lots of twists and turns. My bike computer broke during St. Anthony’s, so I had no idea how far I’d gone, which, honestly, was kind of fun. I just pushed hard without totally blowing my legs for the run and finished the bike right around the middle of the pack.

And the run. Oh, the run. I was actually really excited because it’s just a 2.8 mile run, but I hadn’t taken into account the fact that some of it was on trail, and all of it was on packed dirt, which is great for the knees (it’s softer), but tough on weak ankles. I might’ve aroused a bird or two with my near-constant shrieks of, “Oooh! Woooo!” as I nearly fell over from stepping on a rock or in a shallow hole. I kept something around a 11 minute mile pace — far from great, but nothing I’m going to be embarrassed about.

About 10 minutes after I finished, as Patrick and I were loading up the bikes, I got the best surprise. Jared (who was working in Orlando that day) called, which he said he would do around 9. Here’s the conversation:

J: “Hey, where are you?”

Me: “Still at the race, packing up.”

J: “No, where are you?”

Me: “Ummm, Moss Park? You know, at the race?”

J: “NO. Where in the park are you?”

Me: “Shut up. Shut up shut up! Are you here? No way, you’re not here. Wait, are you here?”

Spoiler alert — he was there. It had been a few days since I’d seen him anyway since he’d been traveling, and then, having him surprise me by showing up at the end of the race was just … well, if you ever hear me complain about him, just remind me of this, okay? It was really freaking cool.

Also, just a note about the race itself — definitely a good one to do. Swimming in a lake is a bit of a novelty when you’re used to swimming in the ocean, and the park itself is lovely, if a bit buggy, so pack bug spray with your sunscreen. It’s not a huge race, but there were multiple events (aqua bike, etc.) which really lent to a bigger feel. And it’s a great one for first timers — they even have a My First Triathlon division with shorter distances (or a shorter swim, anyway, not sure about the rest). I definitely see myself coming back to do this one next year!

So, I’ve had some difficulty getting back in my training groove since St. Anthony’s which was … oh god, two months ago? UGH.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been running and swimming, but the bike hasn’t gotten much attention, and I haven’t been putting the effort forth that I was earlier in the year. And that needs to change, because I’ve signed up for another Olympic length tri in October. So, yeah, the training needs to pick back up.

And what better way to get back in the saddle than to sign up for a sprint triathlon! For which I’m not at all prepared! But who cares, it’s “just a sprint”! And it’s happening on Saturday! Hahahahahaohsweetjebus.

Truthfully, I’m doing it because a really good friend had already signed up (hi Patrick!), and he’s moving away, and I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to do another race with him. Plus, really, it is a good way to get my ass back in gear. Also, the run for this is actually under three miles, and since I did a 3 mile race Monday and kept just under a 10-minute mile, I honestly think I’ll be able to handle the run, which, as we know, is totally the scary part.

Still, I have a feeling I’m going to be hurting something fierce come Saturday afternoon. I suppose that’s just a little extra (okay, a LOT) motivation to pick the training back up so I’m ready for my October Olympic, right?

I’ll get y’all a race report asap. Probably not many pictures, on account of the fact that the only other person I know there will be, you know, racing. Which is probably for the best, because this whole slacking on training thing hasn’t been as kind to the waistline as one might foolishly hope …

A big part of the reason we chose the house we currently live in is because it’s an excellent space for entertaining, and, if you know me, you know it doesn’t take much for me to decide to throw a party. Like, say, my dog not dying — as far as I’m concerned, no better reason, right?

Fortunately, I have a lot of incredibly awesome friends who feel the same way, and who had zero reservations about heading over to our house on a Monday night to celebrate my sweet, healthy pup. And drink wine. You know.

Rudi couldn't wait for her guests to arrive. Such a good little hostess.

And, get this — not only did we have a bunch of the regular crew show up, but two of her doctors from her stay in the ICU came! (One didn’t make it, but he explained that it was because he was stuck in the ER until 11:30. Apparently he didn’t realize that it would’ve been totally acceptable to show up at that point.)

As far as Rudi goes, things continue to look good. Her numbers are within the normal range, and though we’d still be happy to see the creatnine come down just a smidge, we can certainly work with where it is if need be. As Dr. Bandt told me yesterday, it’s back to normal life now. I’ve never been happier.

(Okay, fine, I’d be happier if more of the shrimp salad I’d made for the party had been left over. What’s that? You want the recipe? Fine. It was basically shrimp, which I chopped up into large chunks, mayo, celery, green onion, shredded carrots, dill and salt and pepper to taste — I’d send you to the recipe, but I printed it out and promptly forgot where it came from. It was delicious, but I really wanted to make Mango-Curry Shrimp Salad in Wontons, but somebody thought it sounded like too much work. For me. Not him. Why did I listen again?)

So, it’s not just me, right? It’s fun to come up with a reason to throw a random weeknight party. Now, squirt gun to your head — if you had to throw a party, like, tomorrow night, what kind of fun reason could you come up with for doing so?

I just saw a commercial for a meatloaf pan, and it got me wondering how many special pans/spatulas/gadgets the average kitchen dweller has. I mean, does anybody really make meatloaf so often that they need a special pan for it? Is there still some 1960s housewife out there who’s sticking to Meatloaf Mondays with all the Heinz 57 she can find?

Clearly, there’s a market for a ridiculous number of specialty cooking and baking tools, especially now that we’re all glued to Food Network and learning about how the pros make fancy cakes and create homemade pasta using their fancy-ass pasta cutters and freaking organic, I don’t know, wheat from their sustainable roof garden or whatever — which I’m sure they need a million OTHER special tools for. But really, are the rest of us buying it?

Don’t get me wrong — I guess I have a couple of rather specific cooking tools that don’t care to live without. I have my garlic mincer (which, I found out today, also works nicely for mincing ginger; speaking of which, what else can I mince? Because two things is great, but if it can mince, like, five things, it might earn a spot in the front of the utensil drawer), and a fancy hard boiled egg picker-upper (which I don’t use all that often, but when I do, I love it so much I kind of want to make out with it). And I can’t forget the quesadilla maker we snagged when Jared’s grandma last moved — I’m sure people can make mango/camembert quesadillas with just a single hot surface, but why would anybody want to?

And for grilling, we have our fish holder, and our veggie basket. And when it comes to baking, I do have a yet-to-be-used flame thrower thing for making creme brulee, which, well, I’ve thus far stuck to ordering in restaurants rather than attempting on my own.

Okay. Fine. I do own a bundt pan (and have used it once), and have a cute little cake pan that bakes flower shapes onto a cake (but, because I always frost cakes, I’ve only used this a couple of times — it’s adorable, but not so useful with the icing added).

And, well, I’m not gonna lie — I want a Slap Chop like nobody’s business. I have an apple slicer, which is awfully handy, but the Slap Chop! Have you seen it? It’ll chop your nuts! And your fruit! And you can picture crazy eyebrow guy while you’re using it!

Aww, hell. Hand me the phone. And the number for the meatloaf pan. I’m sure I can come up with a veggie substitute, and when I do? I’m gonna need that pan.

In case you didn’t already hear all about it on Facebook or Twitter, we had a bit of a scare last week when Rudi got into some people meds and went into renal failure.

I’m not going to make you wait for the outcome — she’s doing great and has a real chance at a full recovery. You know, after a week in the UF Small Animal ICU. A week in which she made every doctor and student working with her fall madly, deeply in love with her, of course, but a week in the doggie hospital nonetheless.

Home and happy as a, well, a dog rolling in the grass on a sunny day, I guess.

She had maybe a 50/50 shot going in, and when we walked in with her, I did my best to accept the fact that we very well might not get her back. I believe this acceptance may have come out as me yelling at the doctors, “This SUCKS! This super, super SUCKS!” in between my hysterical sobbing and nose blowing and crying into my sick dog’s coat, but, you know, we do the best we can do in those situations, right?

Fortunately, her numbers began improving fairly quickly after admitting her, and though it took days before I allowed myself even a glimmer of hope that she’d be able to come home, let alone have the possibility of leading a normal doggie life, I did a lot of thinking. I mean, I really am a believer in many things happening for a reason, and considering how this was extra painful for us because Yuki’s death still feels so recent (even though, yes, it’s been close to three years now), and I just can’t believe that this would happen without the universe having some reason.

Don’t ask me why, but I really felt like I was supposed to learn some lesson (other than “if it’s not 6 feet in the air and locked behind a steel wall, dogs, even if they’re well-behaved and never get into anything anymore, can get to it”). And somewhere between her bloodwork showing numbers that were frighteningly high and showing numbers that were sparkling with promise, it hit me — I’ve completely taken her for granted.

I’ve taken her presence for granted. Hollie’s too, for that matter. And I’ve definitely taken for granted the effect she has on people. I mean you should have seen the way the veterinarians and students and staff lit up when they saw her. And if she can do that while fighting for her life in a place where people are rushing from one emergency to the next, what else could she do? She’s always had a way of making people smile — she’s a silly, floppity, sweet girl, and people take to her instantly. Why am I keeping that all to myself?

So, now that things are looking up — she’s home, her numbers are practically back to normal (and likely will be within the next week) — I’ve decided that I’m going to work hard to share her. I’m going to really focus on training both dogs well so that we can take them more places. Jared and I used to take Yuki everywhere; it was easy because we just had her and she was so sweet to everyone, but once we got Rudi, we backed off because, well, I was lazy and it was more difficult. No more. We’re going to have two dogs who walk well on leash and politely sniff other dogs without going batshit crazy. That’s the first order of business.

Second? Once she’s properly trained, I’m getting Rudi, and maybe Hollie, too, certified as a therapy dog. I want to take her into nursing homes and hospitals, and take her to schools and libraries so she can help children learn to read aloud. If I’m getting a second chance at having her in my life, you can be damn sure I’m going to use that second chance to make a difference.

And I won’t lie — I’m also giving myself permission to take a break during the day to just sit with the dogs and get in some snuggles. I swear it’s good for the soul, and I know they enjoy it. And you know what? I’m giving you permission, too. To snuggle with your own pets, I mean, not mine. Although, I mean, if you really want to, I guess you could cuddle my dogs, too. See? I’m a sharer!

Final thought, for my Gainesville and surrounding area folks — I cannot recommend UF’s emergency animal care enough. The doctors we worked with were absolutely incredible, the facility is amazing, and, in the case of an animal facing renal issues, there’s the ability to do dialysis plus one of the best kidney specialists in the country. Rudi loved everyone there to the point of being excited when we returned for her check up. While she always wanted to go with us at first when we visited her during her stay, she was also happy to go with the doctor or student who took her back, which let me know that she was being loved and treated well when I wasn’t around. And we were treated well, also — everyone was so kind and informative and understanding. Special shout outs to Dr. Bandt, Dr. Genovese and Katie, who made this terrifically difficult time a little easier on allĀ  of us (and earned a friend for life in one special black dog).

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