Category Archives: Rants

On being weird

I’m always the weirdo at parties. Here’s how it goes:

“_______, this is my friend Kristen. She’s a runner.”

_______ turns to me and says, “A runner? That’s awesome. I like to run too. What’s the farthest you’ve run?” (It’s a weird question. I guess people want to know if they can outdo each other?)

After debating whether I should be honest or not, I look at _______ and sheepishly say, “100 miles.” S/he then looks at me like I’ve sprouted a second head while processing this information.

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“100 miles? Is that even possible? How do you eat/sleep/poop?”

At this point, other folks have heard the exchange and then I spend a while explaining this weird sport. Since we’re at a party, there’s food everywhere. Talk turns to food, and people notice how few things are on my plate OR they saw me bring in a covered dish and want to know what’s in it. After prompting, I reveal that I don’t eat meat, seafood, dairy or eggs. Oh, and that I try to avoid most gluten.

That second head that magically appeared earlier? It’s dwarfed by the third eye I’ve sprouted. I get really, really funny looks after that, and the questions pelt me much like the sleet did on Sunday. (Yes, Sunday. On March 30th. We got nearly an inch of sleet/ice/snow. Bleh.) I turn into the center of conversations, and it’s an uncomfortable place to be. Questions range from innocently ignorant to almost accusatory. It’s weird and bears repeating: people use accusatory tones when they ask me about running long distances and why I don’t eat certain foods.

Huh?

I don’t get it. I know pianists, knitters, singers, rock climbers, kung fu black belts, bakers, and people with all sorts of other hobbies. It seems like running is the one that sparks the most conversations. I guess it’s because it’s accessible, and everyone (medical conditions aside) can do it. For some reason, people react to my hobby like it’s wrong. I have never heard anyone react to a pianist or knitter the way they react to me. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone responds this way. But enough people have reacted this way that it got me thinking. The same thing happens when I tell people I am vegan. Heck, that seems to bother people much more than the running thing.

People almost seem offended when I tell them that I am vegan. It’s a strange response, and I can’t for the life of me figure it out. I do not go around trying to convert people to a vegan lifestyle. I do not try to veggie-shame people. I don’t insult the food they are eating. I politely turn down foods if offered to me, but don’t make a big deal out of it. (Add to the mix that I am now following a reduced gluten diet and it becomes extra tricky.)

If I’m invited to a dinner or party, I bring along a vegan dish to share. (Oftentimes the dish gets hit so hard I barely come home with any leftovers.) I don’t make a big deal out of it. Ever. I ask in advance what we’re eating, and if it’s not going to work for me, I either bring the dish or eat beforehand and pack a granola bar.

I recently went out to eat with someone at a fabulous restaurant known for decadent creations. None of the main dishes on the menu worked for me, so I ordered a couple of side dishes. This is pretty standard practice for me, so I don’t think about it. The look my friend gave me was one of almost shock. “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to eat? But WHY?” I reassured her that it would be more than enough food for me and that it would still be quite tasty, given the restaurant’s reputation. (Given that she was paying, I thought she’d be pleased that I just saved her a couple of bucks but I was wrong!)

I don’t understand why people care so much about what my feet do and what goes in my belly. I get questions all the time. All. The. Time. Why does it matter? Why do people tell me that they will convert me back to eating meat? Why do they insist that I must be unhealthy? No one seems to care or even want to believe that I have absolutely become healthier since making these lifestyle changes. I don’t care to release my medical records here, but it’s true. I don’t claim that veganism or vegetarianism is the right path for everyone. But at this point in my life, it is for me.

Can anyone answer this for me? Why do people react in such ways to others’ habits? If I am not proselytizing or berating others for their choices, why should I be treated like I am doing something wrong? I know what I look like, and I do not look unhealthy, so it can’t be that people are concerned for me based on my physical appearance. And please don’t tell me people are just curious. I can weed out those people. I mean, I see people trashing vegetarianism and veganism online – just because we choose not to eat a couple of food groups. Why? What does it matter? Honestly, it leaves more meat for them! I just don’t get it.

Oh yeah. . . add in the fact that I have an African child and I become the 2-headed, 3-eyed, 6 fingered weirdo. Put me in the circus.

 

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What I saw that made me pause, and why I think I’m a total bitch.

My friends and I are bitches. We are skinny bitches. (I would never, ever call myself skinny, but some do.) But we are those girls who, at most, have just a few vanity pounds to lose, yet complain about the “need” to lose them. We complain about how poorly we eat, how we suck because we don’t make it to the gym x days per week, and how we didn’t get in our xx miles for the week. We whine about the cut of our jeans make us look like we have a muffin top, how our shirts cling to our guts, and how “nothing looks right”.

Bitches. All of us.

I realized how dumb all of these moans and groans are last week. It doesn’t make my feelings any less real, but it really makes me think about the things I say, to whom I say them, and how I behave.

I was at my local gym, in the middle of some sort of torturous workout which included several 250m repeats on the rower. I hate the rower. (I can run 100 miles but hate every moment of a 1000m row. Shoot me.) (See? Bitch.) This particular workout took me to the rower four times, with about 8 minutes between each visit. On my 3rd visit, as I was cursing that wretched machine, two people climbed on the two treadmills directly in front of me.

It looked like these two folks were a couple. He was extremely overweight, if not obese. She was most certainly obese and had a hard time just getting on the treadmill. I saw them both power up their machines as I wiped down the rower. I moved on in my circuit, wondering how long they might hang around.

When I returned for my fourth and final row, they were still there. They were both walking pretty slowly and she was really, really struggling. She was struggling so much that she had to step off the belt, onto the sides of the machine. I cocked my head just enough (while rowing) to see what she was doing. She was walking at 2.0 mph at a few percent incline. She had been on for 7 minutes and was struggling a ton. I popped off the rower, cleaned it off, and finished my circuit.

When I came out of the locker room to get Little Dude from childcare, I could see that this couple was sitting in the massaging recliners at the entrance to the gym. She was completely reclined and looked miserable. She looked like she had just run 100 miles, but she had walked 0.33 miles.

I looked at them and thought “YES!” I didn’t know how to say anything to them without it coming across as rude or condescending, so I said nothing. I send the most positive thoughts I could to them, as hard as I could. I wanted them to know that what they did was awesome. I wanted them to know that it was the step in the right direction – whatever their goal was. I wished they could read my mind, and that they could know that I meant everything in the most sincere way possible. I wish they knew I wasn’t really a bitch all the time.

These images stuck with me over the next few days. I wondered if this was their first time there. I wondered if they felt comfortable at our gym, with our increasing number of very lean, fit people. I was so happy that they were there – that they were trying. Honestly, I was sad that it was so hard for her to complete her goal of 10 minutes. Most of all, though, I wondered if they would be back.

Seeing her struggle with her walk made me realize how dumb I sound when I whine about my fat stomach, my big thighs, my run that was “only” 10 miles, that I could “only” eek out 25 push-ups, or that I struggle with a 95 lb deadlift. How irritating must that be to the people who I force to hear such things? I have a few girlfriends who listen to me and then whine just the same. But sometimes I make such utterances to other people who I’m sure want to slap me.

My “problems” (as I’ve outlined in this post, anyway) are not real problems. I have created them and I can (maybe?) make them go away. I could choose to accept my current weight and forget about losing the few pounds that irritate me. I could choose to stick with a more “normal” workout routine and not push myself to make arbitrary goals. I could quit trying to fit into the trendy outfits. While those goals help to motivate me to do all sorts of things, they can also cause me a lot of stress and angst. It’s all silly, really. Why can’t I just be happy with the fact that I can live my life as a healthy individual and that walking up a flight of stairs isn’t a problem?

See? Bitch.

Good night.

Things I hate

Kristen’s (current)* List of Hated Things

1. Snakes: I hate them. I have no reason to hate them. They have done nothing to me. I’ve never been bitten. I’ve never found one in my bed or in my shoe. But the fact that they don’t have legs, and that they slither, bothers the crap out of me. I used to scream like a girl and drop the eff bomb when I see them. I’m getting better about my reactions, and can contain myself somewhat, but I still want to vomit. I can’t even insert a picture of a real one here; that would give me the heebie-jeebies. (Let me say this: I’ve seen more snakes on the sidewalks and roads in my ‘hood than on trails. Weird.)

Pretty much sums it up.
Pretty much sums it up.

2. Celery: It’s just gross. It’s the only food on the planet that I hate. There are plenty I won’t eat (I am vegan, after all), but it’s the only one I just plain hate. I can’t stand the stringy texture, and I hate the taste. Once S made me a celery stir fry for dinner. He was proud. I thought it was horrible; I couldn’t even feign enjoyment. I can tolerate celery salt in my Bloody Marys, but that’s really about it. It’s a staple in juicing, and I always skip it. Bleh.

Bleh

3.  Being barefoot outside my own home: I just can’t do this. Hotels? Nope. Friends’ houses? Definitely not on carpet, but if your linoleum or hardwood flooring looks okay, I might be able to. I have no idea why I have this issue, but I do. Anyone who has shared a hotel room with me has heard me in flip flops in the middle of the night when I get up to go to the bathroom. I leave my flip flops right beside the tub too, so I never have to touch the floor. Once I went to a Cambodian wedding and walked in the door in horror to find out that I had to go barefoot. On carpet. I was flipping out (on the inside) the entire time I was there. I drank.

The only barefoot I can do!
The only barefoot I can do!

4. Going to the post office: I find this to be an irritating task. There is always, always a line. It should be easy, but it’s not. I can’t even explain this one. I just hate it.

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5. Going to the gas station: I seriously hate stopping to get gas. I can tolerate it in the summer, but the rest of the year? Fuhgeddaboudit! It’s dumb, I know. But I always manage to need to get gas on crummy weather days. And it irritates me to no end. I always wait until I need gas, which is bad for the car. But I can’t help it. (I will pass on getting gas if I know my husband will be driving my car the next day, so then he’ll have to get it. Insert evil laugh here!)

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6. Speedwork: Nope. Just can’t do it. Now you know why I will never be a fast runner.

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7. All of the gosh-darned whining on social media: There are some days I just want to punch a wall after reading some status updates. A post has been brewing over here on this topic, and I’m just waiting for the right time to write it.

8. Eating disorders: They f*** with you. Hard. I’ll post more on this one soon, too.

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9. Having a whole pan of brownies in the fridge and tapering for a race: The two do not go hand-in-hand. On a related note, I have brownies I can’t eat. Who wants to relieve me of this burden? They are amazing, and here’s the recipe (just double everything and bake in a 13″x9″ pan for 40-50 minutes.)

10. The word “meander”: I just thing it is a whiny sounding word. Seriously, say it out loud a few times. You linger too much on the meeeeander. Ugh. Acceptable synonyms are: drift, ramble, roam, snake (ew!), stray, stroll, traipse (so under-utilized!), change, gallivant, peregrinate, range, recoil, rove, turn, twine, twist, vagabond, wind, and extravagate. I personally like peregrinate.

I could still probably drink some Meander wine, though . . .
I could still probably drink some Meander wine, though . . .

*By the time you read this, I’m sure I’ll have something new to add to it. But these are fixtures on the list.

Edit: OK . . . so my lovely friend Jen had to remind me how much I hate the word “menstruation”. Yuck. This is yet another topic for another day. But let me say this: this word has been banned – yes, banned – in my house. Yuck. Also, let’s add in #11 . . .

11. Filing my nails: What a mundane, annoying task. I rarely do it. My nails look terrible. I had exactly one manicure in my life (before my marriage to S) and I hated it. I have way more important things to do . . . like eating brownies.

Yet another rant

“We should get together sometime!”

“We should get the kids together to play!”

“I’d love to go running with you some time!”

These are things people say to me, not just once or twice, but repeatedly. Maybe we’ll run into each other while shopping, chat a while, and then when it’s time to part ways, one of those phrases comes out of their mouth. Or we’ll have an email exchange about something and they’ll end their response with one of those remarks. OR out of nowhere they will text me, email me, or post on my Facebook wall and throw one of those sentences my way.

What’s the big deal, you ask? These are merely pleasantries, you say?

That’s now how I view it. If someone merely means to be pleasant, they could say, “Have a great day!” or “It was great to see you again!” or “Take care!” Those are easy enough to say, and they are the go-to phrases for such instances.

Telling me that “we should get together” is great! It means they like me and want to hang out with me. Woohoo! Validation! Friends! I get excited. I wait for the call . . .

Woman Waiting for Phone to Ring

Nothing. I check my email. Nada. I look at my phone. Zilch.

But I thought they wanted to hang out with me?  I thought they wanted to set up a play date? I thought we were going to go running?

Ohhhhhhhh . . . . they just said that to be nice. See . . . I thought that since they said that, they were going to reach out to me! But I get it . . . they are waiting for me to call.

This happens to me a lot. Like, a lot. I am not sure why, but I have two theories:

  1. I’m a planner. I often host parties and get-togethers. They think that by saying this, I will take it upon myself to invite them to do something, absolving them of the responsibility of doing so.
  2. They really don’t want to hang out with me, and think it’s nicer to say something like that rather than just telling me to have a nice day or that it was nice to see me. (They don’t realize that I take what’s said to me seriously, I guess.)

My really nice husband tells me that people probably say this to me and mean it, but then forget to follow through. I’m not sure about that. Apparently I know lots of forgetful people!

I’m not sure what to think. All I know is that it’s a tad annoying. I really feel like people are trying to get me to invite them to do something. For the longest time, I did that. I set up so many outings with friends, parties, play dates, group runs, etc. And now I’m tired. I have a lot going on and can’t manage to set up so many things anymore. One thing I notice is that when I’m not sending out invites, I’m not getting them. And that’s fine. I’m not trying to whine about not having friends. I know who my friends are, even if we aren’t getting together every week to do something.

Here’s the point of this blog (aside from venting): watch what you say. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you don’t want to hang out with someone, don’t tell them that they two of you “should hang out”. If you don’t want to have their kids over to play, don’t tell them that you should “get the kids together”. And if you don’t want to invite them running (or whatever your hobby of choice is), don’t tell them you should “go running (or whatever) together. If you say it, follow through with it. Don’t put it on me to do it.

Can you tell I am ready for my mini-vacation tomorrow??

Why I am starting to hate playgrounds (and other public, child-oriented places)

We have some really nice playgrounds in the area. Two of them are totally awesome, and are pretty similar. They are meant to accommodate everyone, from teeny tiny kids to their elderly caretakers, from mamas pushing strollers to grandparents with their walkers. One of them has a misting station – perfect for hot days, and the other one has a big sand pit. They are great. Maybe a little too great.

We’ve been hitting up the one playground fairly frequently lately, and I’m noticing a trend. Upon entering the playground (which is fenced in but does not have a gate or door at the entrance), caretakers (parents, babysitters, etc) are simply letting their children run free. Those adults are then burying their faces in their smartphones or gathering into pairs or groups to chit-chat. Whether they are doing the former or the latter, they are basically ignoring their little ones. And when I say little ones, I mean little ones – even toddlers.

The playground is split into two sections, but like the main entrance, there is no door or gate to separate them. Toddlers can easily find their way from the “Tot Lot” to the section for big kids (over 5 years old, as marked). That “doorway” is mere feet from the main entrance, and it would be soooooo easy for kids to wander away. I saw one toddler bolt out the main entrance the other week. Thankfully his mother (or whatever she was to him) saw him and she bolted after him and caught him before he got into the lane for traffic. She was watching him fairly closely and he still got away from her; other adults aren’t paying such close attention.

During the last few outings to the playground, I’ve found myself almost “forced” to take care of other kids. I know I didn’t have to, but I felt like I did, because no one else was.

One one occasion we were climbing to the top of one of the structures via a ramp, and we found a little girl who looked to be about 3 years old. She looked completely forlorn, and was crying. I stopped and asked her if she was okay. “No,” she said, “I can’t find Leah.” We stopped and looked around for Leah for a few seconds, but she couldn’t find her. At this point, I figured we needed to help her find Leah. I told Little Dude we had to help her, and he wasn’t happy. He wanted to go down the slide. I convinced him that we had to help this little girl stop crying, and then he was on board. With a toddler on each hand, we walked around and around and around. She said she didn’t see Leah. At this point, I asked her if Leah was a grown-up, since I assumed she was. “No,” she said, “she’s 5.”

Crap. I’m looking for a 5 year old? What the heck did I get myself into?

We kept looking, but didn’t find Leah. Finally a girl of about 16 stood up when we passed near her. I asked her if she was in charge of our new little friend. She said she was. I told her that I found her crying because she couldn’t find Leah. At this point I was feeling almost silly for inserting myself in the situation. The babysitter then said, “Oh. Leah was supposed to be watching her. Geesh.”

A 16 year old decided that it was a 5 year old’s job to watch a 3-ish year old? Brilliant.

During our last outing to the State Museum, we encountered the same parenting style from two women who were using their time at the Curiosity Connection as gossip hour rather than watching their kids. One of their little ones, who was just barely walking, toddled up to us and decided he was our new friend. He proceeded to put all sorts of things in his mouth and then put them back in the communal bin for everyone else. Since I didn’t want my kid picking those items up and getting a handful of slobber, I tried to keep the kiddo from putting stuff in his mouth in the first place. Since I didn’t want to touch someone else’s child, my attempts were in vain. I could see the mamas over yonder, just yacking it up, where they had been for quite some time. I guess they figured that since their kids couldn’t leave without passing by them and pushing open very heavy doors, they didn’t have to watch them. Heavens to Betsy.

I don’t mean to insinuate that parents need to be right on top of their children at all times. This is impossible if you have multiple kids, and is impractical if you are trying to teach your kid a sense of independence. I follow my kiddo pretty closely when I knew there are open spots where he could easily fall, but even when I let him run amok, it’s a supervised amok, if there is such a thing. I always have my eyes on him. I might be hiding behind a structure to give him the impression he has freedom, but I’m never at a point where I couldn’t get to him in 2.5 seconds flat. Never. And I am not a sprinter.

I have multiple issues with these parents and caretakers.

  1. Their kiddo could fall.
  • Yes, their kiddo could fall even under their very watchful eyes. I know of a particular little girl who fell off a slide and broke her arm, despite 3 adults watching her. Accidents happen. However, the likelihood of them falling is reduced if a responsible adult sees a possible hazard and alerts the child to it. And if the child does fall, the adult who is paying attention can attend to that child immediately – before there is a bunch of blood or whatever other bodily fluid one might emit after such an event. No one wants their kid exposed to that yucky stuff, and the longer the injured kid sits there, the more likely it is that other kids will congregate around them.

2. Their kiddo could push/kick/hit/otherwise injure another child.

  • Yep, this can also easily happen with supervision. However if there is someone supervising the kids, the offender can be corrected and, if needed, can be removed from the situation. The last thing we need is for the other child to retaliate and for there to be a playground brawl.

3. Their kiddo could exit the park and wander away.

  • Like I said, this would be super easy to do. This park isn’t on a main road, but some are. This one abuts a traffic lane leading to a parking lot. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a kid could wander in front of a car.

4. Someone could walk away with said kiddo.

  • This one freaks me out. No one would really notice if someone walked in without a child and walked off without one, unless that child made a scene about it. And even then . . . how often do we see parents dragging their screaming kids out of a location because the kiddo doesn’t want to go? It would be hard for a stranger to determine whether it was a situation that warranted concern, until they say the local news that night.

I’m not trying to be a overly-protective-batshit-crazy mama, but I am trying to make a point. Parenting a child – or taking care of a child – is not something to be taken lightly. You have an obligation to that child to insure their safety. You are responsible for their development into a healthy, functioning adult. Get your eyes off of your iPhones and save the political discussions with your galpals for the coffee house and WATCH YOUR KIDS. You can do your oh-so-important Facebooking and gossiping during nap times or after they go to bed. Seriously – it can all wait. Heck, you might even enjoy going down the slide or doing the monkey bars. How would you know unless you tried?