Update: 3 Months as a Mom.

Hi! I’m back! I was such a mess after giving birth! I was a mess for a good 2 months, which they say is normal. It doesn’t feel normal. My anxiety was off-the-charts, and it took so long for my body to feel like my own again. I am finally able to workout, which has always been the biggest mood-booster for me. My dog is thankful we are shuffling along now. He can tell I’m at least TRYING to run again. And I could not feel “normal” again without the help of everyone around me–especially my family and friends who took care of Kenzy when I was either too exhausted, working, had appointments to go to or just needed a break.

Kenzy is truly adorable. This helps TONS when she’s a crying mess. I’ve already written about my so-so feelings about becoming a mom. I was scared it would change me into something I wouldn’t recognize anymore. I would be in drum circles with my baby, or I would do nothing in my spare time except read parenting books. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s good to know I’m still so goofy & can make time to watch Big Brother and Housewives (priorities). I have dance parties with her to Beyonce (her lyrics are sometimes WAY inappropriate for 2 month olds, btw) where I force her to dance by moving her arms in legs in a ridiculous fashion  & she totally cracks up. She makes me laugh, too, which is a gift.  I don’t want to compare her to my dog, but I will–because they both have my heart & I’m lucky to have their love. I am such a planner, worrier, etc–but now I just go day-by-day because I can’t handle anything more than that. Turns out, it’s not so bad.

I made it back to work in time for summer camp, and I also somehow managed to keep scavenger hunts going throughout my entire maternity leave, the birth of the baby & those 2 months when I was a mess. We have one of our biggest ones to date coming up in a couple of weeks–a 3 hour hunt through Downtown L.A., and I’m happy to say it still engages my creativity & challenges me in a good way. I don’t know what the future holds in terms of balancing mom life with work life, but I’m grateful to be able to work from home several days a week & get to spend that time with the neediest co-workers ever (Kenzy and Huxley). I also decided to take a break from it in August, so I can have some time at home where I’m not distracted with work.

The biggest joy is seeing other people love Kenzy. They say “she is beautiful, good job” to me as if I had anything to do with it. She gets to grow up with all this support, and I couldn’t ask for anything more for her. While they nurture her & buy her necessities & give her attention–I spend my time coming up with hilarious Halloween costume ideas for her. Thank GOODNESS she has a support crew.

OK, now back to triathlons! I haven’t raced in almost a year, and I’m itching to get back out there. I’ve got some work to do to get back into shape, so I’m shooting for an October/November race date. My road bike is so depressed, but don’t worry–I have taken it out for a ride & more to come! I’ve done squats with the baby, which about as “mommy and me” as I get. I’m trying to eat healthy, but I got so used to eating unhealthy during pregnancy (Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich anyone?!?!) that it takes a minute to realize I shouldn’t eat like that anymore. I’m at the stage where I go out to a restaurant and at least THINK about ordering a salad. Perhaps another month or so, and I actually will!

 

 

 

 

My Birth Story (for someone who has never read a birth story–like me!)

I didn’t know birth stories were things til I was late in pregnancy & thought to myself, “Someone has to have written about this before!” Turns out–everyone has! I only read a few before being either disgusted, disturbed, frightened or nauseous. But now I am SO HAPPY to have my own to tell! It will be terrible and beautiful at the same time. It will be TMI with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. It will make you never want to have a baby!

I really thought I would have a textbook birth. I hate medicine, so I was hoping to avoid any medical intervention if possible. Also, I’m OK with pain–so I thought it would all be do-able. Rough, no doubt, but I could handle it. I would be in and out of that hospital in a day at most.

Just kidding! Let’s do the opposite of all that instead! Let’s start contractions 3 days before even going to the hospital! For three nights I was awakened every 7 minutes for some evil contraction–the only way I could breathe through it would be to get into the deepest squat possible & try not to scream. I was waiting until these were 3-4 minutes apart, as my doctor told me, but nothing was happening. I went to the hospital & they sent me home and told me to take Tylenol. Tylenol?!?! After the third day, my deep squat wasn’t cutting it & I insisted on going to the hospital for some pain relief. I’m getting that epidural NOW!

Luckily, they admitted me this time, and I realized how foreign hospitals are to me. This is luck on my part. The sterile-ness of them just really freaks me out. They tried to slow me down with my insistence on the epidural, but I had it going within 10 minutes & it was like pure heaven when everything went numb. I can do this birthing thing after all! No, I wouldn’t be using an exercise ball & incense–but still–I’m giving birth!

The evening continued on an uphill swing–I was dilating more and more–baby is on its way! And then I got stuck in time. I tried to sleep, but every four hours someone would come check me & tell me “no progress.” Also, my little baby wasn’t breathing optimally–so they would keep changing my positions & then put an oxygen mask on me for my little one. Now I’m stuck in a dark windowless hospital room with an oxygen mask filled with anxiety.

The next day–no new progress, and now I’m developing a fever, so they start pumping me with antibiotics. Suddenly, my dreams of a non-medicated birth have shriveled & it is decided when the doctor comes early afternoon that the baby is not moving down (yeah, I know–she’s in my lungs! I haven’t been able to breathe for months!)–and they need to do an emergency c-section.

Wait–I didn’t even read the chapters on c-sections because I was so confident I wouldn’t need one! I went to the all natural birthing classes (and by that I mean one class & skipped the rest)–that’s all I knew! Now me, so scared of hospitals is being wheeled into an operating room & my legs are being numbed (wait, aren’t my legs already numb??) & some girl asks what music I want to hear, as I moan quietly, “Beyonce.” I keep asking, “How long is this going to take? I don’t think I can do this.” They tell me the baby gets to come out right away, the rest of the time is spent putting me back together. I try to be selfless and think of the baby, but instead I can only think, “I’m going to be here for 45 minutes?”

First off, it’s not Beyonce–it’s the Beyonce Pandora station which plays music I don’t even like (I didn’t want my baby to be born to Mariah Carey!!). And instead of pulling my baby out, i just hear them laughing and joking about how full my bladder is & they can’t get past it. My arms are convulsing, which I’m told is because of some other medication (can’t keep track of everything I’ve been given). FINALLY, I hear a cry–which is the greatest sound I’ve ever heard. It’s not the wailing I expected, but just some little cries at being so suddenly thrust into the world. I hear all the doctors with the baby “She’s so perfect. She’s beautiful.” I hang onto these words, though it’s tough when you feel your insides being ‘adjusted.’ I tell them I’m in pain–they say it’s just “pressure” I feel.

They ask if I want to do “skin to skin” contact with the baby–it will make me feel better, but I insist I cannot. I just really want to be put back together & taken out of this room. After me complaining again about the length of surgery, “How many minutes now??” (my poor doctor), they bring the baby over & she is way more perfect and beautiful than you would expect of something that was just pulled out of your body.

I think I gave her a little kiss or something before saying, “It’s too much. I need to throw up.” They took the baby away, and I threw up all over the place. This is my first reaction to my daughter. After “massaging my uterus”–and doing lots of other painful things they told me were definitely not painful, I got to go to the recovery room for more uterus massaging (they need a new term for this, like uterus punching) & they also shoved her on my boob and before I said anything, she’s breastfeeding.

We stayed at the hospital for 3 more days, and I never got more than a couple of hours sleep at a time. Checking my vitals, my babies’ vitals–giving me more meds, taking meds away, doing baby tests–seeing if I could pee all by myself, etc. Daily goals like “walk across hallway” and “take a shower” took everything out of me. And don’t get me started on the lactation consultants, whose goal in life is to make you love breastfeeding as much as they do. My baby violently loved my boobs, yet there wasn’t much to fill her up with. Everyone who came in insisted she was starving & must eat–which meant I was feeding her every 10 minutes.

I can’t believe these operations are routine! Many friends and family have had them done & don’t complain as much as I still am. Women are so tough. I shuffled to the car when they let me out of the hospital & took a look at myself. I still looked about 7 months pregnant. My whole body had started to swell massively from all the fluids, etc pumped into me. I didn’t care, though, because I was so excited to be home with my baby girl!

Well, I will never do that again. Too terrible!!! It has been almost a month, but it’s gone by so fast and so slow that I can’t believe it. Days run into weeks, and I know someday I will get the hang of this–but someday hasn’t come around yet.

So much in common with Beyonce right now…

It’s my last pregnant post of all time, if I predict correctly. I envisioned I would really keep you up-to-date on this whole process month to month & tell you “Oh my baby is a size of an avocado this week.” (BTW, my baby is the size of a winter melon right now. I don’t even know what that is, but its sounds TOO BIG.) But turns out, people still expect you to work and the dog still needs to be walked even when you are so fat and tired, so time got away from me. Let me just say that I was THRILLED to hear that Beyonce is currently pregnant with twins. I laugh every time I see her posed seductively in really fancy pregnant lady clothes. Meanwhile, I’m wearing 1 of 2 shirts that still fit & constantly pulling up my Old Navy maternity jeans.

I am 39 weeks pregnant now, which I didn’t even know existed. They lie to you about that whole 9 month thing. It is definitely 10 months, which feels more like a year. I go to the doctor every week now, and she just told me the baby went through a growth spurt–and already weighs almost 7 lbs. What?! Why isn’t she out of me yet? She is going to be HUGE, but I won’t tell her that–she is too young for body issues ( I keep buying her infant swimsuits & I need her to rock those with confidence). Although I really haven’t enjoyed any part of pregnancy, I am super grateful it has been uneventful. I don’t have gestational diabetes? But I’m Advanced Maternal Age, and I’ve been eating dessert everyday!

Next time I write I will be a wise mom offering you tips on mothering while still being SUPER COOL and sarcastic. Or I’ll be crying to you about how little sleep I get (as an insomniac I’m actually looking forward to having something productive to do while I’m wide awake at night.) My only wish for labor is that my experience in endurance sports has somehow prepared me for at least some of the mental and physical anguish to come. I’m thinking I will be like “Meds?!?! Who needs those?!? These ice chips are enough to get me through,” but it also won’t surprise me if the instant I enter the hospital I enthusiastically receive an epidural, pain meds or whatever they are doling out that day. No matter what actually happens, my birth story will involve soft lighting, aromatherapy & skin to skin contact with the most beautiful creature ever to be born (in the same hospital where Kim Kardashian gave birth!!!). No one needs to hear your real birth story! I say this after reading dozens of them and being more horrified than calmed.

One thing I know at this point in pregnancy is that I don’t really care for anyone’s advice. I nod my head, but I’m never really listening. I am a super stubborn human being, and google provides me with more than enough information thank you very much. I am going to raise my kid in all kinds of weird ways that no one will approve of, and we’re going to have a blast along the way! The only mandatory thing is that she will have to cheer me on at all my races because that is my main reason for having a kid– I need to grow that support crew.

I will let you know how it all goes. One week til the due date…let the countdown begin!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m 6 months pregnant. My baby-to-be has been busy.

I’m officially six months pregnant. I’ve done the math, and I still have over three months to go (what’s up with that?!?!?). I wrote a few things in the first months that I thought I would eventually publish, but mostly it’s just me cursing the day I got pregnant & going on and on about how I felt hungover and sick 24/7 day after day. You could probably do without that. But i figure I at least take a moment to go back to the beginning.

I’m not someone who is easy to embrace change. I am nurturing, but I’m not exactly “motherly.” I’m not someone that has always wanted kids. Growing up I did because I thought that’s what life was, but the older I got the more OK I was without them. I’m not just saying that. I have been SOOOO happy. As I reached my late 30s, though, I thought, “Now or never.” “You only live once.” I can analyze a small decision (what’s for dinner?) for hours, but something like being a parent–I gave it those two thoughts. I figure it’s two more thoughts than most people give.

The people I tell are always way more excited than I am, so I just soak up their excitement & try not to seem too indifferent. I try to embrace my belly instead of mourning my triathlete life & pants that button. I thought I would stay busy doing prenatal yoga and drinking healthy smoothies & being like those crazy ladies that do dead-lifts and squats until they are 9 months along, but in reality I just try to stay awake long enough to get through work, keep my business afloat & try to not make more than one stop at McDonald’s per week.

When I found out I was having a girl, I was a little in shock. I grew up with two brothers–so that’s sort of what I know, but then the idea of a mini-me started to grow on me. I am a researcher at heart, but the one thing I should be studying (parenting 101) I haven’t one bit. I have some vague sense of confidence. “I got this.” “My whole life has prepared me for this.” Everyone gives me advice, and I of course nod my head–but for the first time in my life, I don’t have any desire to be overwhelmed with knowledge. My only real hope is that she is kind to herself and others. If she is humble, that is a bonus.

Anyway, I’ve made sure while the lil one is in the womb that I take her on some adventures while I can still force her to go with me everywhere. Hopefully she had ears for some of it, otherwise–she missed some good tunes! Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve done:

1) I took you to see several blonde bombshell country singers: Miranda, Dolly Parton & Dixie Chicks. What do all of them have in common besides their hair? They are strong women who are completely at ease with who they are. As for Dolly, I needed you to hear this amazing superstar of a performer. I hope you found the same peace I did in her uniquely beautiful voice. Miranda writes and sings the most heartfelt, heartwrenching songs & shows all different sides of herself in the process. If I could’ve afforded Beyonce tickets, believe me–you would’ve been the first in line there, too. Also, side note– I am also so so so sorry that your dad made us go to his yearly outing to see Phish. Your mom is not the “jam band” type & after 4 hours, how can anyone still be into it? Next year I can use you as an excuse not to go (something I will be doing a lot! Thanks kid!)

2) We spent just about every day with your big brother (also known as our dog Huxley): People have told me I can’t forget about Huxley when you are born. They say I will be so obsessed with you that I may not give Hux the attention I used to. What they don’t realize is that he will always be my little boy, and he will be the best big brother to you. He likes to lay his head on my belly, which you probably know by now, & I’d like to think he is saying hello. You’ve been to dog parks, hiked up mountains in Big Bear, & been swimming in the pool with this little guy. He will love you just as much as I do, and since dogs live much shorter lives—I have to love him 4 times as much as a human. He is a part of the family, and he can’t wait to lick your face, eat your toys and steal your baby food!

3) We did a duathlon together (run/bike/run): You were really little, so you probably don’t remember. I wanted to show you how powerful you can be. Even when it gets tough you can still keep going! I tried to take it slow, but we won a 2nd place medal anyway. I will tell you winning doesn’t matter, but medals are sometimes fun.

4) Working with kids: I wanted you to hear all the laughter I hear when I’m at work—coming from me, my students or my co-workers. I hope you know how good it feels to work with others & find joy in our lives on the daily. I hope you didn’t hear me yelling at those kids when they got on my nerves.

5) Listening to your dad play banjo: OK, ok he is just learning, but I wanted you to know how much love your dad is going to have for you & how he spends his evenings these days trying to learn a song to play for you on the banjo. I wish I could say the same, but I’ve been watching lots of election and post-election coverage & horrible reality TV. In good news, by the time you are born you will already know every character on all the BRAVO shows–which takes some people years to learn!

7) We voted for HILLARY together: I was so extremely hopeful we would choose the most qualified candidate who ran on the platform of LOVE and KINDNESS (the boys don’t do this), and I was so ready for you to be born at a time when a female was president. Not only a female, but someone who has spent 30 years of her career focusing on better lives for girls and women. It was not meant to be, but one day it will be! I will tell you often how Hillary led the way & without her, a female president would have never been possible. We will vote for the next female president together, too (are you allowed in the voting booth? OK GOOGLE: is 4 yr old allowed in voting booth?).

8) We protested and marched together: I know, I know—you are EXHAUSTED already, but I want you to know how important it is to stand up for human rights. Everyone must be treated with the same dignity and respect, and when that doesn’t happen we will speak out against it. Don’t worry, I was the first to leave the protest because…well, I was hungry, and I’m eating for two.

9) We road tripped: Not just any road trip, we crossed state lines & went running in Nevada, Utah and Colorado. I wanted you to know how beautiful it is out there in nature even though you can’t see it yet. The outdoors will always be the most beautiful refuge for you when the “real world” gets too overwhelming.

10) You were met with love from all around: Know that when I am not enough for you, there are so many others out there ready and waiting to shower you with all the love in the world! Our family, our friends, our community—it takes a village (some wise woman who should’ve been president may have written about this), and I will give you the best! They may not all live in the same state, but we will travel the country to see them so that you can feel the same love I felt (and still feel) growing up.

Now, I still have several months left, which will include a trip to New Orleans (we will not be lifting up our top off for beads) and my hometown (a stop to Rosa’s for some burritos! You will love them!). I may not be ready for this adventure, but I know that I am super qualified at making sure you will have a life filled with love and laughter & miles and miles of riding along in that jogging stroller.

Words Are Things

Just so we don’t forget, here’s a portion of a Washington Post article (written almost a year ago) that include a sprinkling of bigoted moments from Trump. Of course, this doesn’t even include the past 10 months of added embarrassments. And I do mean just a sprinkling.

“Trump led the “birther” movement challenging President Obama’s standing as a natural-born American; used various vulgar expressions to refer to women; spoke of Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border; called for rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants; had high-profile spats with prominent Latino journalists and news outlets; mocked Asian accents; let stand a charge made in his presence that Obama is a Muslim and that Muslims are a “problem” in America; embraced the notion of forcing Muslims to register in a database; falsely claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey; tweeted bogus statistics asserting that most killings of whites are done by blacks; approved of the roughing up of a black demonstrator at one of his events; and publicly mocked the movements of New York Times (and former Washington Post) journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition limiting mobility.” –Dana Milabank, Dec 1, 2015

I start with this because I never want anyone to forget what he said and did during his campaign (and before that). He repeatedly said at some point he would refrain from his impulsive tweets, but I hope they continue to come just so we can continually be reminded of who the Electoral College elected to be our President.

I have been thinking of an interview Oprah did with Maya Angelou in 1993 when she talked about how powerful negative language is (she was speaking of racist words specifically, but also negative language in general), and how she doesn’t stand for it.

“I believe that words are things…I think they stick on the walls, they go into the upholstery, they go into your clothes, and finally, into your very body.” Maya talks about kicking people out of her own home that use disparaging words. It has stuck with me.

In my drama classes, you would think, “Oh fun, they are putting on a play! How cute!” That’s rarely the process. When you take away the tables, chairs, books, papers, pencils & gather a group of 11 yr olds in an empty room to create, collaborate & make decisions–it is as difficult as it when you try to do the same with your coworkers. These youngsters are learning how to communicate with one another, to listen, to value opinions & to make decisions. Because of this, it’s imperative to create a safe space. Sometimes, students will violate the safe space.

For example, a student comes up to play a character onstage while other students are the audience. I see some students whispering to each other & say “how dumb” or “they are so weird,” rolling their eyes, intentionally looking for the student to fail. I am usually nice fun times teacher, but something in me cannot STAND it, & everything stops. I don’t follow any of the stuff I’ve learned about conflict resolution. I don’t try to understand the other side in these moments.

It’s hate, and I don’t stand for it. I say in my SERIOUS KRISTY look with my SERIOUS KRISTY voice,”That does not work in here. We do not do that in here.” (If I had a Maya Angelou voice, I would use that). The kids always look shocked, but I really do refuse that kind of bullying, that kind of negativity, that kind of judgment. It is the lowest of the low.

This is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a presidential candidate, and I will continue to be ashamed every time I see him on T.V. I will continue to be vocal against hate. I will continue not to let it seep inside my home, in my city, in my community, in my country.

From Red to Blue

I’m not going to try to write anything of massive importance here about the election. I just wanted to tell you my story of turning from red to blue, my dream of a female president and why my values dictate my reaction to the guy who calls women bimbos on twitter and is also the next President of the United States. These things will come out quite disjointed but hopefully in the end it makes some kind of sense.

I grew up in West Texas, where to my knowledge (which wasn’t much as a kid), we were all Republicans. I probably found out by asking my parents when I had to fill something out for school. I didn’t know why we were or what it meant, but if it was good enough for the family–good enough for me!I had a couple of brief “government” type classes in high school. They were terrible. I didn’t learn much, but I understood both parties. I appreciated that Republicans were fiscally conservative. So responsible! And I liked the idea of giving more rights to the states & keeping more control local. Made total sense. Of course I’m a Republican!

As far as social issues, I remember writing a seething report on abortion. I had never heard of anyone actually having one, but I was quite comfortable standing in front of my class and telling everyone how terrible it was that you could legally do such a thing. I also remember my first gay friend coming out to me when we were in middle school (thank you, Midland Community Theatre for helping me find the most progressive jr high friends!). I remember my big brother telling me that the church told him something about not shopping at GAP because they supported gay rights. I didn’t know how to process any of these things other than to know I would keep shopping at GAP. I tried to go to church more like my brother, but I was disappointed to find out they mostly did social things there & I was such a serious kid–I needed some deep bible study or something! Also, after one hand-bell performance where I lost my white gloves before show time & made my mom frantically stop by every store in Midland for a pair before church, I decided it was not the instrument for me.

Family values were created at a young age. Our family was our nucleus, and lucky enough for me–it included extended family. There really was a “village” of us. My main memory is all my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc coming over for BBQs while I forced my brother & cousin to put on shows for them (and charge our audience money to buy concessions–a Jr. Trump in the making!). With all of my family, I felt nothing but support, love, acceptance & a sense of belonging. I was a really shy kid, but around all this love–I felt a little more able to speak up & even go so far as to give FREE Dolly Parton impersonation concerts.

Back to politics. After high school, my ambivalence towards government lasted WAY too long. I admire college students today that are so invested in the country because all I can remember being invested in is who got cast in the play or where the big cast party was going to be next weekend. I remember “Rock the Vote,” but I can’t exactly remember rocking mine.

I got a job in Austin as an assistant manager of a 14 screen movie theater. I made $7.00 an hour. After a year of working almost full-time hours & getting an amazing review, I remember my shock at my $.07 raise. The other guy managers got triple that, which is literally still just pennies, but it did not sit well with me. They sat in the back room and ate nachos during their shift while I tossed trash bags of pickles and popcorn in the dumpster outside. It was the first of many times things would not “sit well with me” for similar reasons. I won’t offer a list of complaints, I’ll only say that the “boys club” was not exclusive to the movie theater management career path.

In college, many more of my friends came out to me (this happens in the life of a theater performer!). I met Chuck, who would be my best friend of a lifetime & also a gay black man. We hit it off right away because he made me feel exactly like my family did–like I fit in, like I was interesting to listen to, and when ever we sang “Islands in the Stream” together (which is way more often than you can probably imagine), he would graciously sing any of the verses that were too high for my limited range. When he would finally come out to his parents years later, they wanted nothing to do with his lifestyle. This is something in my life I still can’t fully compute. One of the kindest, most supportive, most loving people I have ever met is basically shunned by the people in his life that are supposed to love him the most. Someone who made me feel like family couldn’t be at home in his own.

I moved away from Texas a few months after college graduation. I’m not sure why I had to go–I wasn’t rebellious, I had great family and friends, etc. I was just curious about the world. I randomly chose Seattle. All my coworkers there were creative and drank coffee. It rained so much and was everything you would think Seattle would be.

I moved to Los Angeles and randomly ended up going to graduate school at Cal State LA. It was a shot in the dark, and it ended up being the highest quality education I would receive. What struck me immediately was the diversity–no one looked like one another, yet we all ended up being a solid community of learners. I loved hearing others’ opinions and experiences and I loved learning how to critically think. I had never really learned to do that in all my years of education. I am such a quiet person, but I tried to think of at least one thing to say in every class. Mostly, though, I listened.

I went to New York City for more schooling, and I do remember the election that year. I was struck with how extremely liberal everyone around me was. I was never some hard core Republican, but it was here I first felt a weird pull between my new NYC friends’ political beliefs and my family’s back at home in Texas. I realized that voting Republican wasn’t only about fiscal issues. Mostly, though, I was making great friends from all over the world. But did I mention winter here lasts like 6 months? I had to go.

In L.A., I spent over 15 years teaching youth in one way or another–the bulk of which (10+ years) at a place called Inner-City Arts. We work with kids from all over LAUSD–seeing multiple classes a year, making it possible to work with over 1,000 kids each year. In other words, I’ve met tons of kids that live in Los Angeles & don’t have access to the arts at their school.

As a drama teacher, I don’t worry about turning these kids into acting geniuses. My main purpose is to bring joy into their life, to help them see their brilliance, to be a space for fun and light & anything hokey you’ve ever heard about teaching. Most of all, I want them to feel comfortable voicing their ideas and opinions. I LISTEN to them. P.S., I got all my hokeyness from too many years of Oprah (who my mom kind of thinks brainwashed me, which I will totally admit to), and I don’t apologize for any of it.

Slowly over the years I fell in love with L.A., despite all the downsides of ridiculous rent prices, Hollywood types & massive time spent in traffic. I craved the diverse community I found while working at Inner-City Arts. I realized this is what I loved about all those big cities. I have met so many people with stories so different than my own. I made sure I really listened when they spoke about their lives, their history, their families, their traditions. I became a more tolerant, kind and understanding human being because of the diversity of people that surrounded me.

At some point during this time, I became the most bleeding heart liberal that you could ever meet. Well, I didn’t become one. I had always been one as a kid. I knew those less fortunate than me were there through no fault of their own. There but for the grace of God go I. I was taught by my parents through example, not through words, to treat everyone with respect, compassion and an open heart.

I’ve spent years learning from children under the age of 10 what overcoming adversity really looks like. What inequality really looks like. How some people start 100 miles behind the starting line and yet are expected to be competitive in the race. How it is now my patriotic duty to stand up for people who aren’t even old enough to stand up for their own rights.

One of the most disturbing and common things I’ve see in the classroom are rooms filled with silent girls–boys throwing their hands up, and a shyness and uncertainty that descends on the girls around 4th grade and up. I remember how shy I was, and still am sometimes, and I work my hardest to provide the girls a safe space where we insist on hearing their ideas & running with them.

My position on so many issues has been defined by all the diverse friends I have collected along the way and all the students I’ve had the privilege to teach. I have developed a greater sense of empathy for others, which whether you are conservative or liberal–believe me, an open mind is never a bad thing. A willingness to challenge your own belief system is a quality we should all celebrate.

As I looked at the detailed map of red and blue during election night, the different between rural and urban areas was nothing new. I thought about all the people crammed into these big cities, and for a moment missed the wide open spaces back home. People have actual space between their house and the next home! And parking lots of your dreams! I watched as Texas turned red, and as California turned blue.

Of course it disappointed me to see such division. I thought about the same struggle so many of us middle-class workers have, whether we’re in the city or in the country. Somehow the blue states get lumped into some “liberal elite Hollywood” crowd while the red ones are always the “uneducated white” ones. What a shame all of these ridiculous polls have done to make us seem so different. No one has ever asked me a question for the polls, by the way. Am I the only one?

The day after the election, I walked to my car and saw a few people carrying on with daily life. Walking their dog, going for a morning run, getting ready to take their kid to school while at the same time we wage a war on Facebook against the enemy–our “likes” being the easiest way to stick it to the other side without seeming too aggressively angry.

But also, California made me proud. I am proud to live in a state that is so unapologetic about being inclusive and progressive. I didn’t ever intend to stay out in L.A. for 15+ years, but I have found a second family here. One that allows for my sarcastic sense of humor, that allows me to be creative as a form of employment, that supports me in my dreams. It’s just like my family back in Texas, who, even from afar, fill me with the love I need to always keep getting up and trying to be the best I can be every day.

Now let’s turn to a subject that you are sick of by now: Hillary Clinton! I promise I will tie this all together somehow–there are so many layers. I’m so over the hatred of her. I was over it years ago, so it does nothing to me for you to throw her so-called “scandals” into my face as proof that she is some sort of crazy corrupted demon lady. The DECADES of service that she has done for all kinds of people–people like you!–to make this world a better place plenty outweigh any mistakes she has made along the way. The sexism that seeps from all this is so apparent and appalling at the same time, and the dozens of articles that come out saying, “This isn’t sexism” make it even more apparent to me. I think back to that movie theater experience. I worked harder than anyone at that place, put more sweat into it, built a true sense of team among employees & was rewarded by seeing some dudes eating nachos in the back room make more money than I did. They also were the only ones allowed to count the money at the end of the night. Foot note: they were fired soon after for stealing thousands of dollars while counting that money. I know, I know, it’s a silly analogy but it was the easiest for me to tell in one paragraph.

No one could argue that Hillary was the most qualified candidate. Oh, but people still did! More than that, they are “afraid” of her. Just like people are afraid of Beyonce–how dare she perform at a country music awards show! I mean, sure, let’s let Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood tell countless number of corny, unfunny jokes without much fuss–but a black pop star?!?! Unacceptable. Anyways, you can wrap Hillary up in some kind of present filled with tissue paper lies & a pretty corruption bow, but sexism is SO INGRAINED in our lives that we often don’t see it. That’s why it’s called a “glass” ceiling. That’s why it will take more time for our country to get used to the idea of a female running things. It’s not by chance that our government is only 20% female. So, I am sorry today for the state of the nation but optimistic that women can continue to build our seats in the government & claim a bigger seat at the table. I promise, our lives will all be better when our government actually represents the people of the country. Last time I checked, we’re not all old white dudes! No offense, old white dudes–I love you, too, but you are good.

And with the big finale, why I will never call that guy my president. For a minute, let’s let go of the hundreds of tweets, comments, interviews dripping with misogyny (I’ll get back to them later). Let’s look at his presidential campaign. It was built on Making America Great Again for people that are not immigrants, not Muslim, not women, not gay. Um, you can stop right there. Maybe that’s not why people voted for him, but it at least means voters can tolerate this open intolerance. You ask me NOW to come together in unity, lol? My co-worker at lunch yesterday was genuinely concerned that her work permit may not be extended–and yes, she has “stood in line” like you’re supposed to, has been standing in line since 2002. Do you know how long the line is? What would you do if your survival depended on fleeing your country? There but for the grace of God go I.

Now back to Trump himself. It’s not “rumors” we’ve heard about his bigoted, sexist, embarrassing behavior. It comes from he himself in such a visible, open, unapologetic way. I don’t stand for it, and it would go against everything I’ve been raised to believe about women, about race and about equality if I did. Nasty woman, pigs, bimbos–none of it I would ever accept in my classroom or my living room, and I’m certainly not getting behind it for the sake of patriotism. What a joke! I’ll support my country by making sure in 2018 we have more progressive Democrats in the Senate. I will support my country in continuing to vote in every local, state and national election. I will support my candidates with my money, my time & my voice. This is how I will show how American I am.

People I love voted for Trump–Dad, we’ll talk about this over Thanksgiving dinner–pass the potatoes! They are wonderful, kind, caring & loving people. They want the best for their friends and families. It’s not so much Trump they were seeking, but our not-uncommon wish for change after 8 years of one thing. Hillary, historically, was fighting an uphill battle for many reasons. Blue or red, we always have a belief that things SHOULD be better, even when things aren’t so bad. I don’t question it and won’t argue with it. What I will continue to be vocal about is equality for ALL human beings. I for the most part sit quietly on the sidelines, allowing Facebook as a space where people vent & share while I stick to pics of my dog or articles about Dolly Parton. I keep the peace by mostly writing about non-threatening issues like boring triathlon race reports on my blog. But today I thought maybe my shift from RED to BLUE was worth sharing, too. And maybe more posts like it in the future.

Summertime Thoughts

Over the past months I’ve written half a dozen really depressing posts about mass shootings, presidential elections, etc–but never finished any of them & lost interest in trying to articulate something I was being bombarded with from all directions via social media. Growing up without the internet, I never really heard that many opinions or thoughts. I had the news, my family, the local library and Encyclopedia Britannica. All of these combined never seemed too much to sift through. My mom allowed us two books to check out at the library, and at least one of mine was always a how-to book on gymnastics (why I didn’t qualify for Rio I’ll never know).

It takes me awhile to process things. I think it should take everyone time to process things. But in our world today, you are late to the party if you have to take time to think. If you haven’t changed your profile picture, shared an article, or written your own thoughts for the world to see within 24 hours of any given event–well, onto the next. My response is silence because social media does not feel like the platform for me to engage in productive conversation. And then there are negative posts about people being silent! Darn it, I can’t hide anywhere without people having thoughts about what I should be feeling, doing, being, believing, saying, etc.

“Everyone has an opinion,” I sigh, realizing how silly it is for ME to be annoyed–I mean, I’ve been writing my opinions on this site for over a decade without too much thought about how anyone receives it or perceives it. It’s a self-indulgent place for me, I mean–hello, the website is named after MY OWN SELF. These conflicting thoughts are what keep me from writing, but then I think–hey, haven’t I mostly been writing super boring posts about my latest triathlon? Who cares if I’m a contradiction? Aren’t we all?

So I’m here again. Writing dumb indulgent things that help me process the world and share a piece of myself that doesn’t reveal itself through my daily conversation. So, summertime thoughts:

1) The saddest part of our dog walks: The usual route of my dog walks/runs with Huxley takes us down the street past a house where Pickles the dog lives. He hangs out behind the gate of a driveway–wrought iron, so we see through it. Huxley comes up to Pickles, sniffs him and says hello, pees on a nearby bush & we are on our way. For a month or more now, Pickles is not outside. I was hopeful at first–maybe it’s too hot out? Maybe he’ll be out on the weekend? But I’m starting to think we won’t see Pickles again. Adding to the pain, Huxley still stops in that spot & cries for him. We are still both very hopeful as we near the driveway, and we’re both let down a little when he’s not there. Sure being outdoors and in nature is peaceful and beautiful and fun, but sometimes it’s a little heartbreaking, too. I really still hope we see Pickles soon.

2) My birthday is on Monday! I have been so busy this summer teaching at summer camp & lots of business gigs, so I haven’t thought much about it or planned anything. But I LOVE my birthday. Mostly I feel so lucky to be here another year, and I can’t believe the fun adventures and crazy paths my life has taken. This life is SO SHORT, and time flies by–I sometimes wish my 20s lasted for 20 years just so I could have more time to learn how to navigate life a little more smoothly. I’m not 40 for a couple more years, but I feel it getting closer & of course it’s shocking because I don’t think anyone who turns 40 quite feels like an adult yet. But 40 SOUNDS like you should have your stuff together, which I don’t! I had this thought yesterday, but then I just condensed my entire adult life into a sentence or two & turns out I’ve had a real cool time with lots of adventures–so I’m sticking to that story! Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! It’s on a MONDAY (boo), so I’ll just be working all day.

3) You know it’s summer when Big Brother is on. It’s season 18, and yes–I’ve been watching since season 1. I still love it, though some of it is so predictable and painful, I’m sure that’s part of the reason I love it. What I love best is the sense of humor on the show. I mean, The Bachelor takes itself way too seriously–have you seen those rose ceremonies that drag on for at least 30 minutes and 4 commercial breaks? Big Brother is quick paced & has too many ZANY sound effects to count. Also, it has odd sponsors–like OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE. And sometimes Sheryl Crow will come and play in the backyard. Or the house guests get to screen an upcoming CBS show, and their reactions are way over the top & amazing–because they haven’t been able to watch anything for months. I love this show & I love my friends who love this show. It reminds me that it’s summer, so let’s be SILLY.

4) Did I tell you about the best road trip ever? I can’t believe I went on my summer vacation before summer started (first of June)–now I need another! But driving up to Northern California was SO beautiful. The trees are gigantic & the ocean majestic–found a little hidden spot called Shelter Cove that was right out of some horror movie. It looked like we were in Maine or something, old school beachy/woodsy neighborhood with population–a few hundred? I went to find one of the world’s best mountain bike trail (or so says a magazine article), and it did not disappoint. It was way harder than I prefer, but that’s what you drive 12 hours to do, right? Challenge yourself to a 4 hour long mountain bike trail with a section called “Prince of Pain.” OK, maybe that’s just me. It was thrilling, exhausting & beautiful! My mountain bike was so thankful for the adventure. Oooh–and the Black Sands Beach was truly unforgettable. HUGE beach filled with black rocks & dangerous ocean waters & very few people. It is quite a journey driving up that far, but it was worth every minute.

5) Weddings.For some reason, I have so many to attend this year–for my closest friends, and it makes me so happy! I love weddings!! For each one, I take the time and effort of picking out a dress so seriously as if I’m the one getting married. My best friend Chuck is getting married next weekend, and I’m SO happy for him! First off, being able to have a BEST friend for 20 years non-stop has been one of the big gifts in my life, and so anytime he is happy–I am happy! OK, I’m also happy because they will have a taco truck & are serving margaritas. Can’t wait!

OK, there’s some random information for you! Hopefully it didn’t overwhelm you as much as reading my Facebook Feed overwhelms me. Have a great summer, Love, Kristy

I guess I should have an update post?

Time for an update. I’ve been sick with strep throat for days–so what else am I going to do after I watched Beyonce’s “Lemonade” too many times & have caught up on every Real Housewives episode? Also, I can’t eat any food–so I need distractions to keep me from being so HANGRY.

Usually I’m talking about my racing on here, but it has not been in the cards so far this year. My business happens mostly on the weekends, so there’s that. Also every time I’ve started a training plan something comes around to slow it down. It has not been my season! Good thing it’s only a hobby, but I do miss it. I love that my dog stares up with huge eyes and motivates me to go running with him. It is my most consistent and enjoyable workout! Cross your fingers there will be racing this summer/fall!

My last race, in fact, was a 5k with Huxley. It was my slowest time–but Huxley’s fastest, so I consider it a win/win. And let me tell you–he should not have been in the back with the rest of the dogs who were WALKING. Huxley was not into that. We spent the first 5 minutes weaving in and out of walkers to get up to the front (like doggie like owner). And then of course we took a long water break where the volunteer politely handed over a whole gallon of water for Hux. I just kept filling his cup & trying not to push him for a faster PR. Lol, we lost a good 4 minutes right there! He really can run a good 8 minute mile pace when he’s into it! But he’s my precious pup, so if he wants to also stop 12 times to pee on trees, play with dogs, and hang out in the shade with water–we will do that.

I don’t have many exciting stories to update you on–stayed mostly local except for a camping adventure last weekend. Although I’m a sucker for being outdoors, I am not a camp enthusiast. Having suffered a decade long bought of unending insomnia, I love my precious sleep oh so much & now I’m more Princess and the Pea. A total sleeping snob! But I did it. The air mattress was a huge help. The nearby neighboring camp festivities/parties were not. Guys, didn’t we come out here to be close to nature? Oh wait, you would rather rage? Sigh. My favorite part by far were the meals. Every two hours, I would start to wonder, “Is it time to light the fire? Put something on the grill?” or “Should I pull out one of the dozen trail mixes I brought for a 2 day camp trip?” or “Are we going to run out of ice for my nightly vodka drink?” The sunsets and the views were killer, though, and even without a shower I could still appreciate those.

Let’s end with Things I Love Right Now (well, not right now–strep really takes it out of you! I would just love a good night’s sleep) to keep it light: Cold Brew coffee–I’m in love. It’s hard for me to drink a hot cup of coffee when cold brew is an option. It’s so smooth! It involves ice! I like something trendy for once. Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen–I used to just watch this if it was on & I was bored, but now I watch almost every night & it calms any anxiety/stress. I love Andy, his sense of humor & that it’s a good old “call in” show…you don’t see those anymore. Heated Pool– It is a complete luxury (thank you front neighbor that pays for the heating). I’ve had unheated apt pools that we had to stay out of for months at a time, but I can comfortably go for a swim (or OK, sometimes I just stand next to that little section where the HOT water comes out & do my “float therapy”) anytime of day in any season.

OK, I just wanted to check in on my site. I miss regular updates! I hope someone still reads.

Training with my 4 Legged Friend

I have a new triathlon training buddy. He’s almost a year old & is sometimes a faster swimmer than me and definitely a faster runner. You think I would be jealous, but I just shake it off. He can’t ride a bike to save his life, so I have that going for me.

I didn’t really plan on training with my dog. Sure, I always dreamed of having a dog to run with, but I imagined it as a full-grown adult dog that could maintain whatever pace I wanted. I thought my dog would quietly sit in its crate when I went for a bike ride or a long swim. Doesn’t he know what Oprah taught us–that you have to take care of YOURSELF before you can take care of OTHERS? (He does not know this. I told him again while painting my nails last night, but he did not seem to care.)

He’s in full adolescence mode, though, so it’s not quite as dreamy. He’s not old enough to run that far on leash, and we make LOTS of stops. I’m going to be quite shocked when race day comes around & I have no real reason to stop a dozen times for sniffing purposes.

I tried to crate him while working out, but he does not love the crate. If he is anxious, he’ll bark the whole time. Neighbors don’t appreciate this. It seems for each minute he is in there, his energy doubles & when he is finally released–after oh, you know, an hour or so–he runs and jumps up higher than my head for a good 5 minutes. I had to rethink my training.

So when I’m swimming now, he’s right out there with me. I have a new game where I throw a dog toy to the end of the pool & we both go after it. He usually wins, so I jump out of the pool, grab it from him & start again–convincing myself this is kind of mad chaos isn’t so different from a triathlon start. I’m breathing hard, so at least it’s cardio. My swim stroke isn’t getting any prettier, but I’m getting really good at jumping into the water.

I’ve gone on some outdoor bike rides minus the dog, and while I cherish the alone time–I spend way too much time imagining how I could bring him along…next to me? behind me? on a tandem? I got the latest Bicycling magazine this month with a man on the cover riding a bike with a dog ON HIS SHOULDERS and I thought, “Well…maybe.”

My training buddy is very insistent. When I’m like, “Ugh, can’t we just have a lazy off day today?” he will either start to cry annoyingly or bite at me until I get off the couch. And we go outside, and I’m always happy we did. I figure all the times he’s motivated me to get moving outdoors makes up for the lack of speed or endurance that we have as we train together.

I didn’t really know what having a dog would be like. He is funny. He has approximately 4 sleeping areas, and he spends every night from 7-9pm rotating among them. Every time he gets to a new one, he sighs a dramatic sigh & plops down even more dramatically. Really?? We get it. You are sleeping! These weird routines crack me up, and they make me feel like I’m at home. His over-the-top “welcome back I’ve missed you” jumps when I get back from work make me think maybe I’m doing something right, even though I spend several nights a week reading training websites about everything I’m doing wrong.

Whenever I start to worry that I’ll never be amazing at workouts again, I remind myself that I’m lucky to have this guy trotting alongside of me. Hopefully someone will read this and begin offering triathlon relays for dogs and humans, so Huxley can do the swim for me. Then we’ll have a real chance at some medals.

2016 Time…Goodbye 2015!

I just got back from an epic holiday adventure to Denver and back (with stops in Aspen, Utah, Vegas, etc along the way). Family fun and all of that. I love the chance for a couple of weeks to totally alter the way you do things–slacking on email, eating Mom’s meals, making sure the dog doesn’t get TOO close to the horses on that farm you’ve rented. Thought patterns become so routine that it’s a requirement to shake them up a bit at least a few times a year. I haven’t seen that much snow in years, btw.

I didn’t say an official goodbye to 2015. When I reflect on a full year, I’m always surprised by how much actually happened. My life usually seems so mundane, but hey–condense 300+ days into one blog entry, and I seem pretty cool. This is my “best of” list for 2015:

1) HUXLEY was born! Hooray, I have a dog! He is sleeping at my feet as I write. I have over 200 photos of him on my phone if you want to see what he looks like. I have not yet spent a night without him since the day he came home–this could mean I have separation anxiety OR I’m an awesome dog mom! He’s growling at the guitar right now, his biggest enemy in the house.

2) HAWAII–a total dream come true! Every inch of the island was beautiful. Volcanoes, stargazing, hiking, surfing (I caught a one foot wave!), etc–I wanna go back!

3) Changing up my work situation: I loved my full-time teaching job. That’s why I did it for 9+ years. I couldn’t tell you anything I do better than teaching. But I feed off challenges, and I wasn’t being challenged. So I did something scary. I went part-time, and this is what happened: I almost immediately got a teaching gig at Cal State L.A. I had been applying to universities every year since I got my Ph.D., and this gig came out of the blue. It wasn’t what I planned on doing, but it turned out to be just the right challenge I needed at just the right time.

4) Road Trips times 2: Two chances to hop in the car and make the 14 hour drive to Denver to see my parents and family. I had never made that exact drive before, and I was impressed at how beautiful it was. One in 100+ weather & one in freezing frigid temps–still two really fun experiences.

5) VRBO: I love Vacation Rental By Owner…check out the website! It’s my favorite place to do my favorite thing–find cool rental homes. I have a weird obsession with it, and I think I’m really good at it. I sift through all the reviews to get a good feel for the place. I’m patient enough to do a dozen different searches until finding the perfect property. I much prefer these places to hotels, especially with a pet. I was able to stay at the Mango Cottage in Hawaii, a horse farm in Colorado, a nice pool house in Palm Springs, & have found a “future” place up in Northern California along the “Lost Coast.”

6) Scavenger Hunt Biz BOOMING: Starting my own business has been a really scary dream that started about 5 years ago. Mid-November things picked up an amazing amount. I was so busy for a month that I couldn’t even take a moment to say “What’s happening to the business?!?!”–I just had to roll with it. I booked more gigs in 3 weeks than I usually book in 3 months. I loved every minute of it. This came at a time when I was questioning the whole thing, my career moves, etc. It was the “you’re on the right track” message I needed at just the right time. Although it is still scary and unpredictable (umm, who wants a scavenger hunt during El Nino??), I walk into the new year a much more confident person than ever before.

7) A back house with a POOL: I didn’t know people had pools in Culver City, but now I do! Although I thought I would focus on running this year, I’ve decided to take advantage of actually having a pool & start back up with triathlon training! The dog likes to swim, too, so it’s a win/win. And the pool is heated. How fancy am I right now? The place isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny to feel at home in your home.

8) TAYLOR SWIFT 1989 tour: I’m not an official SWIFTIE, but I did play her album in my car for a solid year, so it was a fun show to go to. The girl spends A LOT on production quality, so just like Beyonce–it was more of an “experience” than a concert. The best part was when Mary J Blige came out and performed, & I was screaming louder than all the 12 year olds around me combined.

I really wanted to make this a solid TOP 10 list, but it’s hard to remember EVERYTHING. Just like I’m sure it’s hard for you to read EVERYTHING. I hope you had a great year, too, and I hope you’re just as excited as I am about 2016.