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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.


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 few months ago, I came across Cassie Boorn and her Letter to My 20-Something Self idea. I loved it — I love the idea of looking back on who I was and seeing what I would have changed. And I love the idea that maybe, possibly, the advice I would give myself could help someone who’s currently that age.

Teal jeans with a color coordinated t-shirt from Northern Reflections, if I'm not mistaken. Probably safe to assume this is smack dab in the middle of the awkward phase.

But then it hit me — at 20, I had a lot of stuff figured out. I mean, sure, I overused my credit cards, which is something I’m still dealing with 11 years later, and I could have been more diligent about using sunscreen. But overall, I’m okay with 20-year-old Kristen. 20-year-old Kristen packed up her mom’s Grand Cherokee and drove from Michigan to Florida to start a new life. She made mistakes, but she’s okay in my book.

No, I didn’t need Future Kristen’s help at 20. I needed Future Kristen to step in years before that. God, did I need her to step in. (Not that I would’ve listened to her, because did I, as a teenager, think anybody knew better than I did? Oh hell no.)

I’ve become incredibly interested in this idea of figuring out when people would go back to their younger selves to offer advice. After asking around, I’ve gotten answers ranging from early childhood, 8 or 9, anywhere within the teen years, and into the 20s. And the reasons are equally varied — some wish they’d worn more sunscreen to avoid damage or cancer, some wish they could go back and spend more time with family or friends who are no longer with us, and many people wish they had realized that they should’ve had more confidence, stayed out of the drama, or just handled circumstances differently.

For me, I think the ideal time would’ve been at the start of my freshman year of high school. I’d had a number of really awkward years prior to that, but I love the idea of a fresh start (see: packing up and moving to Florida), and high school should’ve been that for me. So, below is my letter to 14-year-old Kristen. I’d love to hear from you in the comments, though, on at what age you’d like to give yourself advice and why!


First day of high school. That is one snazzy vest.

Dear Kristen,

It’s the morning of your first day of high school, and your nervous smile is winning the battle over the sparkle of excitement in your eyes. Yes, you’re going to be surrounded by hundreds of kids who are older than you are and who already know where their classes are. Yes, there are going to be cute boys (boys who are taller than you, even!) and there are going to be mean girls. But you don’t need to worry so much about them. Just focus on you for right now.

On Blending In and Fitting In

I know that, despite your carefully planned outfit of a knit vest over a tee and khaki shorts (very stylish in 1994), you’re hoping to blend in. Don’t. You’re not very good at blending in. You’ve got a big smile and a bigger personality. Do not waste your first two years of high school looking down and frowning, even though grunge is in and it seems like being pissed off at life is cool. Smile at people. Make eye contact. And when you walk down Junior Hall with all those boys who make your heart jump into your throat, don’t you dare try to avoid being noticed. Trust me when I say that confidence is pretty much the coolest trait you can possess right now.

Sure, not everyone gets all of your jokes, but you’re actually really, really funny, and if you’re making yourself laugh, someone else is going to join in. And you know what? If they find you funny, chances are great you’re going to enjoy their sense of humor as well. It really doesn’t matter if they’re on your basketball or volleyball team, or if they’re in drama or newspaper or band. When you let down your guard (and you will, believe me), you’ll find that you’re so much happier when you surround yourself with all kinds of people rather than limiting your friendships to people you have almost everything in common with. Even though those people you have loads in common with can be pretty amazing, too.

On Friends

Speaking of friends — don’t take them for granted. Some of these girls are going to be your best friends well into adulthood, so when you get a boyfriend (yes, I promise, you end up with a boyfriend or two), don’t stop making time for them. You’re not going to keep in touch with your exes (no matter how much you think you love them right now, they’re going to be exes, I guarantee it), but some of these girls will be in your wedding.

On Boys

And, speaking of those boyfriends — don’t settle. And don’t sit around and wait to be noticed. If you like a boy, muster up some nerve and say hello or flash him a smile. I promise it isn’t as horrific as it seems. Worst case scenario, he figures out you’re interested and doesn’t reciprocate. Best case, he figures out you’re interested and asks you on a date. And seriously, do you want to look back on your high school years and think about all the cute boys you never talked to? Trust me, the answer is no.

On Gossip

There are going to be times when you’re tempted to say nasty things about people, even about people you like. Don’t do it. Gossip sucks. It hurts people and it leaves you wondering, first, whether somebody knows what you said about them, and second, what everyone else is saying about you. It’s a waste of energy, and even if it makes you feel like you fit in for a moment, you’ll carry an icky feeling in your stomach for far longer than you carried that little spark of elation. When people start spewing lies and meanness, step away and chat with someone else.

When in doubt, be kind. Even if not in doubt, you know what? Be kind. I’m not saying you have to kiss anyone’s ass; far from it. If someone gives you a hard time, stand up for yourself, your friends, and what you believe in. Don’t waste your time trying to become best buddies with someone who you clearly do not get along with. But smile and say hello to the weird guy in the back of the class who looks like he’s having a really bad day,. If you see someone getting pushed around, step in to help. Lend an ear, a shoulder, or a hand when you can.

On Self Confidence

A couple of other things to keep in mind: You’re smart. This is an important part of your personality and is going to be sort of important as you get older with that whole “working for a living” thing. You don’t need to hide it in order to seem cooler or more interesting.

Seek out opportunities to excel in the things you love — this is the time to attend writing conferences and enter contests, because now, it’s free (or at least Mom and Dad will pay for it). Things get more complicated when you’re on your own for those things, believe me.

Other Important Stuff

Run, don’t walk from the tanning bed. I know your friends might do it, but it’s bad for you. You would never smoke (and good for you!), but this is equally dangerous, especially since it turns out that you’re at high risk for skin cancer. If you keep it up, you’re going to end up with some big, ugly scars, and let’s hope that’s as bad as it gets. Stick to the sunless tanning lotion, please.

Hug your your dog Lacey. She’s already old, and she’s a bigger part of your life than you realize. You don’t understand how much it’s going to hurt to lose her.

Sit and talk to Grandma. I know, I know, she’s repeating herself and tells the same stories over and over, but there will be a time when she can’t even remember those stories. Go through pictures and ask her questions about the people in them. Tell her about what’s going on in your life. It doesn’t have to be interesting; she just wants to be involved. And be sure to thank her for picking you up from school so you don’t have to ride the stupid bus. She doesn’t have to do that, you know.

Be a little nicer to Mom and Dad. Here’s a newsflash — everybody has parents. And everybody your age feels a little embarrassed about the fact that their folks have to drive them around. But you know what’s stupid? Being embarrassed that Dad’s dropping you off with the boat on the trailer behind the truck. Why would you be embarrassed that your family has a boat? Because it makes you different? Honey, you are different. In a lot of good ways. The sooner you embrace that, the sooner you’ll start having fun. And you really don’t need to worry about everyone knowing you as Earl’s Daughter. For one thing, it could be way worse. And besides, you’ll make a name for yourself in that small town soon enough. And then you’ll leave, and when you look back, you’ll feel only pride at how many people recognized and admired your folks.

I don’t think I need to tell you this, because, from where I’m sitting (here in the fuuuutuuuuurrrrre), you figured this out on your own, but it bears repeating — take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Follow signs — they’re real and they take you places. Good places.

Oh, and also? When the idea strikes you to become a brunette after years and years of highlights, get thee to a salon.


Future Kristen

I’ve probably used this analogy here before, but sometimes I feel like blogging is a lot like keeping in touch with a friend who lives far away. When you make a point to talk on the phone frequently, it’s really easy to just dial her up and tell her about the latest, stupid little thing that’s happened. But, when you haven’t talked to her in a while, you can’t just call her up and be all, “Oh my god you would not believe the size of the ball of ear wax that just came out of my ear!” because first you have to catch up on all the big things that are going on and by the time you’ve heard about how she’s selling her house and they’ve adopted a Romanian orphan, the news of your ear wax ball, impressive though it surely is, seems to pale a little in comparison.

But! Since I get to talk first, you get to hear all about my metaphorical (and maybe literal) ear wax balls before you get to tell me about your new orphan. God I love blogging.

I quit my job. You know, the job writing and editing for Paw Nation (and also writing for other AOL properties) which I’ve done for the last few years and  LOVED. I don’t really want to go into details right here, right now — it just doesn’t seem cool — but let me just say that I’m a big believer in signs, and this time, the universe made it really clear that it was time for me to move on, and so I have. I’m still figuring out exactly what I’m going to do, but I’m planning to use the opportunity (yes, I’m totally considering it an opportunity) to follow my heart and get some exciting new experiences under my belt. It’s all good, I promise.

I did a (practice) tri. My big race, the Olympic length St. Anthony’s tri, is Sunday (as in, like, a few days away), but a little over a week ago I did a sprint distance tri (about half the length) in Jacksonville to warm up, along with my friend Jodi (who took first place in our age group — I took third). Overall, it left me feeling pretty excited for the race, and only somewhat nervous. Maybe a little more than somewhat, but I’m definitely not freaking out. Well, not much, anyway. Most of the time.

I threw a killer party. The animal rescue I volunteer with, Puppy Hill Farm, had its biggest fundraiser of the year on Friday night, and I sort of headed up the committee for the event. It was pretty major and incredibly stressful but, overall, I think it was a pretty big success, and I’m already brimming with ideas for next year. Because clearly I’m insane. (Although one of the main ideas is GET MORE HELP. I think that’ll make a huge difference.) Still, it’s a huge weight off my shoulders to have this over — I’ve been working on it in some way for the last five months, and when I woke up Saturday and knew there was nothing I needed to do, well, I almost wept with relief.

I had an emotional surprise. After the Puppy Hill gala, we had loads of flower centerpieces left over, and one of the women there suggested taking some to a nursing home. I was planning on doing a bike/run brick out in Trenton (you remember this trail, right?), which is where the nursing home where my grandma lived for several years is located. I figured since I’d be in the area, I’d stop in, drop flowers off, thank the nurses for all they did, and be on my way. Well, I got no further than saying, “My grandmother lived here for quite a while,” before the nurses all said, “Oh, you’re Sara’s granddaughter! We just loved her so much.” And then I sobbed. This was not at all expected. I mean, Grandma Sara died over a year ago, and I was pretty prepared for it even then. Why this hit me so hard, I couldn’t tell you, but I’m extremely touched that these nurses cared enough about Grandma to not only remember her, but even remember her granddaughter.

Okay, you’re all caught up on me, I think. (I’ll save the ear wax ball story for another time.) Now what’s new with you all? Anybody moving, having babies, getting a new hair cut?

It was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining and temperatures were in the 70s. A light breeze rustled the newly green leaves. We had nowhere to be but the Nature Coast Trail, nothing to do but ride our bikes for the next 90 minutes. The ride coincided perfectly with my triathlon training plan, and I was ready to tackle it head on.

And, as it turned out, Mother Nature was ready for me.

Things started out just fine. We passed a turtle munching happily away on leaves. Well, happily until I stopped to take his picture. It was almost like he didn’t want a closeup or something. Turtle are weird.

Why so crabby, turtle? Sheesh.

But then, shit got real.

I believe I experienced the stupidest cycling injury ever to have occurred — a bee flew into the front of my shoe and stung the hell out of my ankle. No, I don’t know how it happened. Yes, it hurt a lot.

At this point, I was a little ahead of Jared, so he got to see the whole panicked affair of me getting my feet out of the toe cages and getting off my bike and trying to get the bee out of my shoe without dropping my precious damn bike. (In the future, I will set the bike down first because have you ever tried to get a bee out of your shoe while holding up a bike? Not easy, yo.)

Jared pulled up and basically asked, “What the hell?” to which I’m pretty sure I answered,”Bee! Hurt! Ow!!!!” Then he spit water on me (like, on the sting, to, I don’t know, disinfect it or something, which now seems like maybe not the best plan) and asked if I wanted to go back. Of course, I did not — I don’t have bee allergies or anything — so we continued on, and several miles (and one successfully eaten Gu) later, we reached the river.

I think this was the Suwannee river? Not entirely sure, but we were not allowed to fish from the bridge. Sorry Dad.

Not a bad stopping point, right?

I’d survived the killer bee and now ridden over a Big Scary Bridge (well, Big and Scary for me, since I have an intense fear of bridges), so then, it was time to head back. Only Mother Nature wasn’t done with me.

I nearly wiped out avoiding a suicidal lizard. I mean, what do you all do when you’re riding a bike and a small animal runs in front of you? Brake? Swerve? Pee a little?

On my last hard interval, I was attacked by a grasshopper the size of a tennis ball. No, I’m serious. He jumped at me and hit my front wheel — which I totally felt — and then got lodged in between my wheel and bike frame. Good thing Jared was there to poke it out with a stick, because I was too busy gagging at the mangled parts and the fact that the grasshopper’s buddy was standing nearby. Watching me. Waiting.

I got back to the car without further incident, and finished up with a 20 minute run without even so much as a bird pooping on me. But man, even though I always thought I was kind of a good country girl, I’m kind of thinking nature sucks.

Now, if one of those things had happened, it would be weird enough, but who has a bee fly into their shoe while cycling? Or a grasshopper get stuck in your bike and make an awful sound? (The sound being the grasshopper parts creating friction against the tire, not the grasshopper himself. I’m pretty sure he was quite dead.) I’m just going to assume I’m super lucky.

It’s funny how celebrity deaths hit me. When I saw the news about Elizabeth Taylor the other day, I actually teared up. I mean, it’s not like I was her biggest fan or anything — I’ve always been intrigued by the stories about her, and amazed by her collections of jewelry and husbands, and inspired by her charity work, but if you asked me to name a quote from one of her movies, well, I don’t know if I could do it.

However, it was a different story when Michael Jackson died. I sobbed like a baby. For one thing, I was well into a bottle of wine, sitting on the back porch with Jared, checking Twitter on my phone when I got the news. But mainly, it hit me so hard because so much of my childhood was set to his music. I remember going to the record store with my mom and getting the “Bad” cassette right after it came out. We played it all the way home from the mall. Within days, I knew all the words, and within a week or two, I had choreographed dances to most of the songs. (I had already done this with “Thriller,” of course.) The Michael in my mind is the man in those music videos; the man who blew us away with his inventive dance moves and signature look, including the white glove.

The instructions suggest not playing while wearing The Glove. I suggest ignoring the directions.

Well, put together my love of Michael Jackson and how much I like to dance, especially in my own home, and you can imagine that I was thrilled to have a chance to check out Michael Jackson The Experience for Wii. (The fact that it comes with a rhinestone-encrusted glove is just icing.)

In theory, it’s a party game, but in this household, well, Jared and I are pretty good at having a party all by ourselves. (Hush, I don’t mean it that way. Minds out of the gutter, kiddies.) We started out a little bit skeptical — the choreographer warm-up was, well, nothing the do the moonwalk about, for sure, but after jumping into the dancing,  we were sold.

There are 26 songs available, each labeled as easy, medium, hard, or an option where you can follow Michael or his backup dancers at different levels in the case of some songs. Jared was content to let me do my own thing until he saw “Thriller,” at which point we made it a 2-player game (up to 4 can play). We danced, we laughed, and we sweated — and not only because it’s almost 80 degrees in Florida right now.

What’s cool is that no dance experience is really required to participate — Jared and I had really close scores in “Thriller,” despite my years of dance classes and the fact that he’s never taken a lesson in his life. And you can make it as intense and workout-y as you want. After five songs, I had sweat dripping in places that, following Michael’s moves on-screen, I should’ve been grabbing. But you could certainly go easier than I did and still have a great time.

I know this game is really marketed at families with kids, but to be honest, I really can’t wait to have a few of my girlfriends over, open a couple bottles of wine, and bust this out. Especially now that I’m starting to unlock some of the choreographer lessons, which provide tips on how to actually perform the moves, rather than just shake and gyrate your way through faking them.

(Although, you know, if you want to fake your way through, you won’t hear a peep from me!)

While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

This time of year is why I live in Florida. We’ve had several weeks of amazing, sunny (but not too hot!) days, meaning my non-work time has been filled with charity kickball tournaments, bike rides (yes! I learned how to ride my bike!), outdoor lunches, swimming, and trips to the dog park. In short, it’s been amazing.

It’s also been a little overwhelming, as I’ve been pushing other things to the side in order to have a little extra play time. And then, factor in the fact that I’m spending an hour a day or so on tri training, and this time of year is when I start doing a lot of work for the Puppy Hill Farm gala, and, well, it’s a lot. And then I went and scheduled things for almost every night this week, and … well, I cried today. No real reason. Or a million reasons, depending on how you look at it.

The crying couldn’t feel more stupid, though — the things on my plate have all been fun things that I look forward to, and it’s not like I’m falling all that far behind in anything but housekeeping, which, if we’re all being honest, isn’t exactly my strong suit to begin with so you probably can’t even tell the difference. I know that tomorrow (or even tonight, most likely), I’ll be back to my normal happy, chipper self, but for the time being … I’m just not.

But! You know what cheers me up? Cute kitty pictures. And we just got a cool new thing to review (don’t worry, I’ll cover it on Paw Nation in the coming weeks), and Meeko is adorable. So, enjoy! And tell me what makes you feel happy when your body is trying to be sad.

Meeko Sunny Seat

Meeko Sunny Seat

Most gym etiquette is really just common sense. If you get up from a machine and leave a sweaty ass print, wipe it down with a towel. If a lady is running vigorously on the treadmill, it is inappropriate to stare, no matter the bounciness of her breasts or cut of her shirt.

But, this winter has found me in the pool, which, due to a long streak of chilly weather, has seen at least two to a lane almost every time I’ve gone. And while most poolside rules of etiquette are either A) posted B) ridiculously obvious, there seem to be a lot of people who ignore them, so I thought I’d list a few ways not to be a tool at the pool.


Every couple of months (or more, if you swim really frequently), enlist a pal to look at you in your suit while wet, front and back. If it’s see-through, it’s inappropriate. Go shopping. That especially goes for the 65-year-old man with the flesh colored Speedo. You all, I really wish I was joking. You have no idea.

Boxers are not pants. Guys, I understand that the locker room attaches to the pool area, and if you forgot something, it seems like it should be fine to walk out in your boxers — they cover about the same amount as a bathing suit, right? WRONG. We know what could come swinging out of there at any moment, and we don’t want to look — believe me, we do not want to look — but we can’t look away. Just put on some damn pants, man.

Ladies, before you haul yourselves out of the water, take a quick second to make sure everything is in place. You know what I mean.


The sign on the wall states that you must share your lane if someone is waiting, and if more than two people are sharing the lane, you circle swim. So, dude, share your lane. You were stopping at the end of every 50 before I walked up, and I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you suddenly had to start a super long set, swimming right down the middle, just as soon as I approached.

That being said, if you’re the one walking up to the lane, make an effort to catch the swimmer’s eye before you jump in and almost land on my the swimmer’s head you jerkass. If the swimmer is clearly in the middle of a long set and not looking up, sit on the edge and try dangling your feet for a second to get their attention. If you just jump in and start swimming at me, at best I’ll be startled (and pissed), and, at worst, we will crash, I will be furious, and both of us will be hurt. But especially you. You will definitely be hurt.

If you’re a seasoned swimmer and you see someone who looks completely clueless trying to find a lane, for the love of Pete, throw them a bone and share your lane — it’s scary to be the new kid, and the pool can be intimidating.

And I have one parting word of advice. It’s not really etiquette, I guess, but it’s something I’m ashamed to say I need to remind myself of more often than I should. Your workout is not more important than someone else’s. Yes, it’s annoying that the Gentle Joints Zumba Party for Centenarians (and Beyond!) takes up three of the five pool lanes and the fluff from someone’s Depends is floating by your face. It’s frustrating that you’re having to share a lane with Splashy McDrownerson and you’re choking on the wake he’s creating. But everyone is there to work out, get a little fitter, and feel good about themselves, so just mind your own business, knock out a few laps, and remember that you were probably once a Splashy, and one day, god willing, you’ll join that Swimming for Seniors class.

(Also, don’t pee in the pool. EWWW.)

The road in my 'hood. It's not exciting, but it's a good place for a quick run.

It is official. I’ve signed up for my first Olympic length triathlon — St. Anthony’s, which takes place in St. Pete on May 1. For those who aren’t familiar with triathlon lengths (and, if you don’t do triathlons, I can’t imagine why you would be), Olympic isn’t quite as scary as it sounds — it’s a 1.5k (.93 mi) swim, 40k (24.8 mi) bike and 10k (6.2 mi) run. Yes, it’s long, but each leg, on its own, is totally manageable, so my hope is that, after training properly, the entire thing will be not only manageable, but fun.

Or at least won’t cause any lasting pain. You know, whatever.

(If you want to know more about why I’m racing, I’m going to be doing a monthly update on my training over at Fit Bottomed Girls — you can check out my first post on that now, if that sort of thing floats your boat.)

At the risk of sounding like a giant conceited bitch, I know I can do this. I’m not sure how fast, but I know that I can show up and cross the finish line and not be the last person to do so. The harder part comes in the meantime — finding a balance between focusing on the training and focusing on family, and when I read this post today, I realized it was something I’ve thought a lot about, but I haven’t really talked about all that much.

When I signed up for the race, I told Jared that I was going to make a point to not let this take over my life and my time. It’s all too easy for me to get totally swept up in a project and start to neglect other things I love and enjoy. And while I don’t want to stifle the competitor in me too much — I’m proud of my “go hard or go home” attitude — I also know that the super slight possibility of earning a medal isn’t anywhere near worth causing issues at home.


Yes, that's a chili pepper on it. And no, that's not the *only* reason I bought it.

It’s not just time, either, although time spent training is certainly a factor. It’s money as well — triathlon is not a cheap sport, which isn’t exactly a surprise to me, but, well, I’m having to really watch myself to keep from spending boatloads of money on things that, admittedly, would make training easier, but aren’t totally necessary. I bought a very nice used bike (isn’t she pretty?), and I’ve gotten a couple new bathing suits on sale (dude, you do not want to know how bad my old one was getting. Because, yes, I basically had just one that I wore for every swim, and, well, it’s about done).

But it would be frighteningly easy for me to have spent hundreds more dollars on gear and equipment already, and I know I’m not quite done. And since we don’t have hundred dollar bills lining our handmade Italian shoes in our fancy custom closets, and I have yet to figure out how to teach my dogs to shit gold, I’m also conscious of the fact that money I spend on this race impacts what Jared and I get to do together — I sure as hell don’t want the fact that I wanted a cuter bathing suit to be the reason we have to pass on going to dinner, you know?

Still, I know that having this extra thing that’s just mine (well, I’m training with my friend Jodi and working with my coach, Patrick, but, you know what I mean) is good for me, and Jared has been really supportive of both the time and money I’m spending. But I’m wondering how the rest of you find balance between interests that threaten to suck up a lot of time/energy/money and the other important things in your life, like family and friends. Do you create a schedule? Play it by ear? Just go with it?

tea and toast

Toast (one with honey, one with cinnamon/sugar) and tea (green, with honey). Naturally.

When I got sick as a child, a particular sequence of events would occur. I would cough a few times, but deny that I felt anything but totally fine. Within a day or so, I’d start coughing so deeply and frequently that my denials were met with a shake of the head as a spoonful of Dimetapp was shoved into my mouth, which I tolerated because, mmmm, grape! Next came the Robitussin, which I did not tolerate, and which generally resulted in my parents begging, bribing, and threatening me until I finally took it. And god forbid I actually got bronchitis (which I generally did) or pneumonia (which I occasionally did), because that meant PILLS. And y’all, Child Kristen did not. take. pills. Oh no.

But my mom did other things for me when I was sick that I not only recall in a more positive light, but I’ve continued to do when I’m sick as an adult. (Like I am now. Ugh.) And, of course, I’ve got a few things I’ve added on my own, especially now that I’m a freelancer and, well, freelancers don’t get sick days. Do you do/eat/drink any of these things? If not, what are your go-to, hardly-ever-fail tricks for when you get sick?

  • 2 slices of toast, one with butter and cinnamon/sugar, one with honey
  • OJ and 7-Up (or Sprite) mixed together. The more pulp, the better.
  • Exercise (until my body lets me know it’s no longer a good idea — there’s a fine line between the time when a good sweat session will make me feel better and when it’ll just drain me. If I find myself sweating on my own for no reason, or if my hair and eyeballs hurt, bed wins out over the bike).
  • Nighttime cold meds. Oh my god, yes.
  • Copious amounts of hot green tea with honey. I’m probably peeing out this damn cold at this point.

Okay, now seriously — how do you guys cope with being sick? Share your secrets, because I know about half of you feel just like I do right now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my kleenexes and my laptop and my tea climb back under the blankets on the couch.

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