Why I Think I Might Sort of Be Done with Triathlon for a Little Bit

I was going to call this post “F*&% You All, Your Lives Are Not That Cool,” but I’ve been informed I’m “negative” and “intense” online, so instead we’ll go with this.

Last weekend my phone committed suicide on Friday afternoon after trying to upgrade its Enterprise server via the directions from work. I swear I followed the directions, but it wouldn’t even let me make a call without freezing. I got it back to phone-call-making capabilities by wiping it clean, but had no contacts and no internets. And, no possibility of a new phone until Monday. So, I ended up spending my weekend going to the high school cross-country regional/sectional/whatever championships, riding Tamarancho with some friends (terrifying mountain biking, by the way, just completely maybe-I’ll-throw-up-I’m-so-scared kind of terrifying), spending more time at the brewery than the ride took – even with me walking my bike a significant amount, and then racing the cross-country Pacific Association championships where I fell twice in the mud and slid and placed 94th or something — all WITHOUT INTERNET ON MY PHONE.

This was mind-boggling in its absurdity going into the weekend. A whole weekend, full of stuff, without email or twitter or facebook??

But, by the end of the weekend, when I sat down at my computer I felt better and more fun than I had in awhile. And not because of the negative influence of technology or all that shit people are always going on about. But, simply because I hadn’t been inundated with the forced positivity of the internet all weekend. I hadn’t felt compelled to see how everyone was doing at IM Arizona or how wonderful a time they were all having. And I didn’t care.

It may be just triathlon, but I don’t think it is. There is a need, particularly online, to always be soooo excited about riding my bike and sooo grateful for my friends and my life is just so amazing and so wonderful and so filled with positivity all the time — by inference it is so much better than yours.

Maybe other people don’t feel this way – obviously, they don’t. But, for me, this kind of relentless cheeriness eats away at my confidence day after day after day. If I’m not as completely totally all the time happy as everyone on my twitter feed or as amazed at the wonder that is the sun as all my facebook friends, something must be wrong with me, right?

No one online (or largely, in popular society) ever seems to have any problems that can’t be overcome by just looking at them with the right attitude. Or, at least they don’t admit it.

I’m well aware of the documented positive effects of being positive, but there’s a decent amount of writing on the negative impacts its having not just on society, but on us individually. Implying, or stating outright, that you just need to be relentlessly positive to overcome even the direst of problems is only two steps away from arguing that people who succumb to illness just aren’t fighters and those that remain impoverished do so because they just don’t want it enough.

And on a personal level, we are undermining our long-term mental strength and capability to solve problems by refusing to acknowledge them. It’s not that I’m negative or unhappy or down on my life; it’s just that sometimes I am. And, I’m betting you are sometimes too.

Which brings us to the draft title for this post and back to last weekend. For a whole weekend, I didn’t read about everyone’s super amazing days and how every chance is a dream and what a blessing this race was. And, I felt better than usual I think, because my weekend, which along with lots of fun also included a little bit of dry-heaving on my terrifying mountain bike and little bit of crying in the rainy cold at my XC race and plenty of doing nothing interesting at all, seemed just fine.

All of that isn’t the only reason why I don’t really think I want to do triathlon a ton next year, but it’s certainly related. It’s become the athletic embodiment of an attitude I just don’t know that I can deal with. (I’m also tired and really busy and sick of competing against girls who have so many more hours to train than I do and just not super excited about doing the circuit again. Mostly, I’m just not feeling it.)

I’m sure I’ll still do TriCal’s Alcatraz because I love that race and I’ve been thinking about other stuff, like ultras and Xterra – if I ever get up the courage to get back on my mountain bike. But, mostly I think I might just stick with running, of the non-Oprah variety, which has a whole different kind of attitude that includes kegs at the finish line, $20 entry fees, usually no med tent, and a lot of sarcasm.

What is going on?

I was listening to the radio yesterday (I don’t usually like listening to non-music in the car on the way to a race, but Steve left it on KQED) and they were talking about some square with tents pitched where the police were violently cracking down on democratic protesters in clashes across the country for the third day in a row.

And, I thought are they talking about UC Davis? Or Cal? Or Oakland? Or Wall Street?

Since I missed the start of the segment, it took me awhile to realize they were talking about Egypt.

They next went into a discussion about the Occupy protest that, even on KQED, didn’t use the same rhetoric. Instead, they discussed police having to “disperse” student protests for “health and safety concerns” by “nudging them with batons” and “cleaning out” encampments.

I’m pretty sure if you saw this video coming out of Egypt instead of  UC Davis, you would be righteously outraged at the police:

And, I’m pretty sure nudging with batons was once known as beating with clubs.

Like Colbert said, I don’t know how much more nudging those students can take.

And, I’m pretty sure the Davis students were causing far less of a health and safety issue than the police who were enlisted to clear the “disturbance” from campus. And, I’m pretty sure the student trouble-makers that were beaten by police at Cal last week weren’t just student trouble-makers and characterizing them as such is a disservice not just to the 70-year-old Poet Laureate  poet and his wife who were also hurt by police, but to the whole point.

I don’t particularly think that things are as bad as Egypt (duh) and I’m not a big fan of blaming “the media,” since we’re not a single unit that gets together for weekly meetings, but when an English professor is dragged across the grass by her hair at your school known for being tolerant and sitting students are blatantly pepper-sprayed — and the administrator defends the action — and a war vet’s skull fractured by a tear gas canister, you have to wonder if the coverage would be different if it was part of a democratic dominoes falling in an “Arab Spring.”

It’s not that I necessarily think all the protesters have the most pure of reasons (I’m sure some people in the 60s were just there because it was the cool thing to do too) and it’s not that I necessarily enjoy drum circles and it’s not that I necessarily totally know exactly what calls for action are being made.

But, we are the United States. We understand non-violent protest and conflict resolution and campus police (at least at Cal) don’t do much besides harass cyclists. At the very, very least, we’re a country that should be cynical and world-weary enough not to bat an eye if people want to link arms across a plaza or pitch tents in New York. The only people that don’t know that beating down protests just gives them a second life are people that hope to squash them so violently so as to stop them permanently. In other countries, they have another word for that. So, what is going on?

It doesn’t feel like our country.

Mountain Biking Sucks and It is Stupid

I fell yesterday. It wasn’t a big deal.

The trail got really steep downhill and I was slowing, slowing, slowing down, but it was too rocky and there was a ditch/crevass/rut and I was going too slow. I knew I wasn’t going fast enough to clear it. I knew. I even tried to speed back up and hit it at the right angle.

And, I did an ok job. But, I started wobbling after my back wheel clipped the rut and lost control. I knew that was coming too. I knew. I unclipped and started to roll and it seemed like I was just going to fall down on my side. No big deal.

But, it was so steep I bounced and slipped for ten feet or so.

I sat up and did the check over. No cuts. No broken bones. Didn’t hit my head. Felt fine. Everything was fine.

Then, I passed out.

If you know me, you know this happens. I’m prone to passing out. It hasn’t happened for a few years and it only happens after provoked by something: altitude sickness, falling, bloody nose — something that changes pressure or heart rate or rush of blood to the head. I have had other heart rate episodes during races and after races and during hard workouts. I’ve been through all the tests (and, clearly, we’re about to go through some more) and I always get the ‘a-ok, you’re totally healthy, except for the predisposition towards passing out.’

So, I came to and sat up and did another check over: nope, still ok. I checked over my helmet: no dents, no cracks. No bumps anywhere on my head. No symptoms of serious concussion: I could remember everything, carry on coherent conversation (ask the woman I ended up yelling at), no blurriness of vision or nausea. I had no symptoms of any internal injuries. I had no external injuries. I wasn’t even hurt, except for some bruises and one big bump on my arm where I hit a rock.

I know from experience there’s nothing an emergency room can do in this situation.

There’s nothing to do for a minor possible concussion and you passed out. All you can do is wait and watch out and rest, lots of rest. And was it really going to be that restful to get strapped down and carted off to an ER and jabbed with needles — all still in my bike clothes and freezing? No. And, in the end, they were going to say: oh, wow, you have no symptoms of a serious concussion and there’s nothing an ER can do to solve the passing out problem (that takes a lot of tests, tests, tests – trust me, I have another doctor appointment tomorrow), so you just have to wait and watch out and rest.

It would have been an expensive and incredibly stressful waste.

The last time I had a similar problem — a fall, sat up and felt ok, then passed out — I let them strap me down to a board and stick me in a room for awhile and ‘rest.’ It was the WORST hospital experience I’ve ever had. (Steve’s broken leg was definitely worse.)

So, mom, grandma, Steve’s mom, go ahead and re-read those last four paragraphs before you stress out about me not going to the ER for no reason.

That meant the only thing to do was walk the 400y or so to the bottom of the trail, call someone to come pick me up, and go home. I probably could have biked home, but not a great idea, so I was standing and calling people to find someone to come get me when this soccer mom came over to me.

Her: Are you ok?

Me: (I have this tendency to not just say yeah, sure, but answer half-truthfully) No, not really, but I’m fine, thanks.

Her: Do you need anything?

Me: Uh, a ride? But, it’s fine, someone’s coming. Thanks. I’m fine.

(I really did appreciate the offer, and was thinking about how to get home, but it’s like a 35-40 minute drive from where I was at that time of day with traffic.)

Her: Are you sure?

Me: Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks. It’s fine.

Her: Are you sure your phone works?

Me: Yeah, it’s fine. It just worked. I’m fine.

Her: Well, there’s a security guard up there, if you need anything.

Me: OK, thanks, thanks.

Her: Just walk up there if you need anything.

Me: OK, thanks.

Her: Are you hurt?

Me: No, I’m fine, thanks.

Her: Are you sure?

Me: Yeah, I’m fine, thanks.

Her: Did you fall?

Me: Yeah, but I’m fine. It’s ok. Thanks

Her: Are you just scared then?

Me: (I don’t know. I got annoyed at this point.) No, I’m not just scared. I passed out. But, I’m fine, it’s fine, ok, I’m fine.

Her: You passed out?! We need to call an ambulance then! You need to see a doctor.

Me: No, I’m fine. I just need to make a call.

Her: No, no, you need a doctor. We need to call 9-1-1.

(And, at that point, I just lost it and started yelling at her. I really was appreciative of her offer of help. It was perfectly nice. But, now, I needed to make some calls and deal with this. And not with her.)

Me: NO, I’m FINE. I’m perfectly ok! OK? I just NEED TO MAKE A PHONE CALL. Will you leave me alone now? I’m FINE!

The Bucket List

So, after the Parks and Rec episode last week where they did items off the bucket list, obviously, we had to make a bucket list.

Of course, I have rules for bucket lists, though. 1. They can’t all be places you want to go. That is lame. 2. They can’t really just be goals or achievements, like I want to be Editor in Chief of my own magazine — not a bucket list item, clearly a career goal. 3. They can’t all be achievable just through money. Also, lame.

These were the immediate ones I had:

1. Be in a riot, just like once to see what it’s like. (And, then get the fuck out of there.)

2. Fly in a private jet. A cool one.

3. Go on a book tour – for my own book, not as a groupie or whatever.

4. Appear on national TV.

I had more too, but then I fell asleep, so these are the ones I remember.

This I Read This Week

The other night, while I was sitting and eating leftover Oreos and drinking the leftover margarita mix (which doesn’t really go together, fyi, but I was powering through) and watching Law and Order reruns, I realized: this is what people do.

I haven’t really gotten motivation back to train yet: I ran yesterday and I mountain biked another day this week and I haven’t swum in four weeks, so I’ve got some free time. And, coming down off of a relatively completely insane month, means I’ve finally caught back up at work and I’ve got some free time.

So, in lieu of an awesome story about how awesome my life is, here are some of the things I’ve been reading about.

Everyone on the facebook was talking about this video of the cops beating people at the OccupyCal protest:

To me the crazy thing was that the OccupyCal protest was really no different than lots of other protests I saw at Cal and, actually, looked pretty sad and small earlier this week. And, the cops never attacked anyone in the four years I was there even at the bigger protests. So, why now?

(The cops did have to get out the riot gear during Steve’s freshman year when some of the kids from a local high school were denied entrance at a fraternity dance and proceeded to riot and throw newspaper stands through the windows of the yogurt shop.)

Then, of course, everyone on the TV was talking about the the protests at Penn State this week:

Which, of course, were absurd and sad in their misguided sentiment, but when everyone on The View and the Daily Show went on about how no one was protesting the sexual assaults, did they think that through? You generally only have protests when there are two sides to an issue and who did they think was arguing that what happened was ok? Even the entitled, self-involved students tipping over media vans weren’t saying it was ok, they were saying (sorta) that maybe the wrong person was being scape-goated.

[Side note: Let’s not call it a “sex scandal,” that was the same term used when Anthony Weiner tweeted a picture of his underwear. That just cheapens what happened to the kids.]

That meant the most popular thing being shared on the social media this week was this story about the Penn State v. Cal protests.

Everyone from Cal thought the article was great.

So, yes, there was a wedding

Here’s some pretty pictures from the wedding – cause obviously, that was the whole point.

And, yes, we did exchange ‘bling.’ And, no, it wasn’t Steve’s idea – it was mine and it was brilliant.

I don’t like wedding cake, so there was a brownie sundae bar. Which, I hear, was good. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t really want any, but then I realized I had had like five 16-ounce pint glasses of margarita.

And, a pinata.

And dancing.

And there was more dancing, which resulted in the best picture of the night after Steve changed clothes and was wearing a headband, but apparently, he didn’t put that one on the facebook.

It was good times and fun and everything people told me wouldn’t work out beforehand did work out.

But, honestly, the whole thing made me feel more alone. Because, I can not be the only female on the planet who doesn’t enjoy the ‘ooooohhhh, are you like SOOOO excited’ and ‘just remember, it’s your special day’ and ‘you must be sooooo stressed out. well, just remember, there’s nothing you can do on that day, so whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll be MAGICAL’

OH MY GOD, are you so excited? Are you ready? I’m sure everything will come together. Don’t stress about it; you must be so stressed. Whatever happens, it’ll be a magical day, I’m sure it’ll all come together. You must be so excited. Do have enough cups? Where is everyone going to sit? It’ll be soooo nice. Don’t forget, it’s all about you guys. What should I wear? Do you think this dress is ok? What about this one? What are other people wearing? Ohhh, are you like soo stressed out? How do you feeeeeel?

Even just writing these sentences is making me make an angry face at my computer and want to go punch somebody.

So, the closer and closer we got to the wedding, the more and more I felt like a totally separate and unique species standing on an island by myself.

It’s not like I’ve never lived with girls and can’t participate in some good girl talk. I lived with four girls and we watched Sex and the City and facebook stalked boys and sat in the bathroom gossiping while one of us did her hair. And, it was all perfectly fun, but in an fun-ironic kind of way — no one takes Cosmo seriously or actually thinks Carrie is a role model. Right.

Right? Right???

Steve thought I was exaggerating, but I was with him a couple of times the subject of the wedding came up and this is what guys said to him, with no further questions and no weird baby voices:

– Really? That’s great, congratulations man.

– Oh, cool, when is it?

– Ho, did she break your leg. Guess you can’t get away now, huh, huh. Guess you can’t escape with a broken leg. Hah.

OK, that last one was also annoying. But, not one person went ‘oooooohhhhh, are you like sooooooo excited.’

And, the more this came up (people were actually banned from asking me questions at one point), the more it was like ‘oh, Kelly’s just so crazy, she just hates people.’ Which brings us back to the original point: I am apparently inhabiting a universe entirely by myself.

It’s like this one time I was wearing an empire-waist white blouse at this party and this middle-aged woman came up to me and rubbed my stomach and said, “Ohhh, when are you due?” And then she promptly realized she was a moron and started apologizing.

But, the thing is she thought I was mad because she was calling me fat or something, but that wasn’t why I was mad because 1. I’m not fat and 2. in the universe I inhabit – and of which I am becoming increasingly concerned I am the only inhabitant – it is NOT ok to rub a total stranger’s stomach under any circumstances unless maybe you’re performing CPR or something and even then, let’s not be creepy.

And, everyone I tell this story to thinks it’s funny. But, NO ONE thinks it’s appalling.


The Problem with a Wedding

People keep being like ‘ohh, you’re getting married next weekend, you must be really stressed out.’

I even went to the doctor because I was pretty sick and she wrote it off as “wedding stress.”

And, I am. Sure. But, it’s not cause like my florist isn’t coordinating with my hair dresser. It’s because we have no food and lots of non-wedding things to do. No exaggeration: we’ve got chairs, tables, customized M&M’s and college kids to drive shuttles – which will hopefully be their minivans they drive themselves, because we don’t got actual shuttles.

Oh, and I’ve got Steve, who still can’t pick anything up – unless you put it in a backpack for him to carrying around on his crutches.

So, yeah, I’m stressed out. But it’s more of the life variety and less of the bouquets and stupid wedding jokes kind.