Tag Archives: jared

How I learned I’m the girl in the horror movie who screams

It began the way any good rom com begins. Half a bottle of wine in the Hydro Flask, headlamps at the ready, kayak in the water, pants nowhere to be seen. (Because I was in a bikini. This is not that kind of movie, guys.)

We loaded up the dry bag and pushed our two-seater kayak into the water just as the edge of the sun began to brush the tops of the tallest buildings on Siesta Key. The water was calm, the breeze barely blowing enough to rustle my hair.

Jared and I paddled out from Turtle Beach, into the intercoastal, for our* first sunset/full-ish moon paddle. Que romantico, I know, I know. I really know how to spoil a guy.

Who wouldn't want to do this, right?

Who wouldn’t want to do this, right?

Aside from a few times when one of us stopped paddling and the other didn’t strangle them mostly because we all know who the first suspect would be there, it was completely smooth sailing. We watched the sun set lower and lower, giggling about how we were literally paddling off together into the sunset.


Literal use of literal.

It was dusk by the time we reached the beach at Midnight Pass, and we had the place to ourselves. We watched the last of the light slip into the ocean as the stars began to come out, one by one. Quite a few stars came out, actually, despite the cloudy sky. Lots of stars, but absolutely no moon.

(That’s not ominous at all.)

We poured the wine and joked about how we’d go skinny dipping (no we wouldn’t) except for the fact that the horror movie rules clearly state that one of us would have to get eaten by a shark. And we had ice cream to eat at home, so getting eaten by a shark was really pretty much out of the question.

When we got back in the kayak, the sky had faded entirely to black, but our eyes were adjusted to the dark at that point. Plus, the ambient lights from the Key gave us enough to see the channels through the mangroves, so we left our headlamps turned off and began our leisurely paddle home.

We’d gone through some shallow sections on the long route out, and knew we were likely to hit a few areas with just a foot or two of water on the path home, so we were on the lookout for any spots that appeared to be too shallow to cross.

We were not prepared for something enormous to come rising out of the water a foot from our boat.

“What the …?!?” Jared yelled as I stared at the water swirling, then SMACK! Something hit the water — hard — sending wake that shook the kayak. Before we had a chance to react, it happened again, nearly in the same spot. Water roiling for just a moment, and SMACK!

I’m pretty proud to say that I at least waited until the second one before I let a bloodcurdling scream go. (Sorry, everyone on Siesta Key.)

“Go! Let’s go! GET OUT OF HERE!” I shrieked at Jared from the back of the kayak. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but I damn sure wasn’t going to let Jaws catch me without a fight. And let me tell you, you really don’t know just how fast you can make a kayak go until you think you’re paddling for your life.**

After considerable research*** it appears we probably were “attacked” by … a manatee. Maybe two of them (or possibly a ray, but given the size of the thing coming out of the water at us, we’re leaning toward giant fucking manatee). Most likely, we surprised a mother and baby (omg I am so sorry Mrs. Manatee — I would never do that on purpose!) and they were just using the only defenses they had available — those tremendous flat tails, which they slapped down on the water like a whale. Speaking of which, I always thought I’d be one of those people who’d be really cool about it if I were kayaking and a whale came up right next to me, but … yeah. Probably not. Good to know.

I think in the horror movie, we would arrive home harrowed but triumphant before falling into one another’s arms. In reality, there was a lot more of me saying, “But WHAT EVEN JUST HAPPENED?!?” over and over again until Jared showed me this video.

*It should be noted that this was not my first kayak rodeo — I’d made this same nocturnal, nautical voyage with a group of friends a few months before, and had paddled the same route in daylight (more or less) a few other times. Jared had actually been out on most of it, too. This is all related.

**Jared would like me to point out that he did not fear for his life and actually wanted to go back and look, but was respectful of my wishes and state of abject terror. I would like to point out that when we got about a football field’s distance away and he told me it was okay, his voice cracked. 

***We searched “manatee kayak attack” on the YouTubes.

Love and laughter

Like every other couple on the planet, Jared and I often have important discussions about which celebrities we’d like to hang out with, specifying when, where, and for how long. I mean, Matt Damon? We could probably all go on vacation together and have a blast. Jack Black? He would be SO MUCH FUN … for a few minutes, in a group setting, and not in our house.

(The Jack Black verdict came down after watching him in the Weird Al Yankovic “Tacky” video. This is an important fact.)


Last weekend, we had a date night with dinner and a movie. Like, a real date, where we put our phones away during dinner and talked about stuff other than dogs and work and laughed — oh, man, did we laugh. After 10 years of marriage (back in March, holla!) we can still crack each other up, which is awesome and basically exactly what I hoped marriage would be like.

After dinner, we headed over to the movie theater and walked in just as the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” song was playing. So, naturally, I started dancing like the sodas and popcorn boxes on the screen as we walked down the aisle toward our seats. I was starting to get into it when I hear Jared behind me saying, “Oh my god. You look exactly like Jack Black.”

I almost got offended, but then I remembered what we’d watched earlier in the day. Skip to 2:08 or so and you’ll get the idea.

So date night was a pretty big success, is what I’m saying.


The next day I joined a group for a bike ride on a trail an hour or so south of where we live, which put me fairly close to my parents, so I asked them to meet me afterward for lunch. On the drive down, I heard on the radio that it was the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, which, of course, was well before my time, but it’s still an important date to me — my parents met at a party celebrating the first man on the moon. At lunch, I brought it up.

Me: So the moon landing was 45 years ago today. Does that mean you guys met 45 years ago?

Mom (smiling): Wow! Yeah, I guess it does.

Dad (laughing): Yep. And that was the last time your mother ever drank a beer. The big phoney.

Mom: That’s true. I drank that one beer [to impress him] and never drank another one again.

Me: Ah, memories.

Dad: Don’t worry, I’ll smooch her when we get to the car.


Here’s hoping Jared and I are also still joking like this in another 35 years. Something tells me we will be …

Why I’m done bashing Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has never done much for me. When I was young enough to be excited about it, I didn’t have a boyfriend and felt left out when my friends got flowers or candy or cheap, gross perfume from the boys they were “going with.” By seventh grade, I was bashing it for the Hallmark holiday it was.

Once I found myself as part of a couple, though, my attitude didn’t really change. I think I might’ve gotten some flowers, but they just felt like a token. Almost like a “no thank you” serving — you know, when someone makes something you don’t like but you take just enough to push around on your plate and make it look like you ate some. I felt like I received flowers because that’s what was supposed to happen. And it didn’t feel special.

That hasn’t changed. It’s not that I don’t want to receive gifts, because I do. I really, really like flowers and don’t let anyone tell you differently. But I’d rather get a card or flowers or something because someone’s thinking of me, or because Jared knows I’ve had a crappy day, or because I’m celebrating something meaningful.

But! With all that being said, a little something did change for me at the beginning of this year. I still don’t want flowers on Friday, but I’m done bashing the holiday itself.

See, it seems to have become seriously uncool to set New Year’s resolutions. I feel like, everywhere I turned at the beginning of 2014, every time I asked someone whether they set any, they sort of scoffed and said, “Oh, no. No, I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe in it. Why should I change things just because it’s January 1?”

I get that, but each time I heard that remark in its various forms, it dug a little further under my skin even though I know no one meant it as an attack. I like resolutions. I don’t think everyone needs to set them, of course, but I like the feeling of a January 1 clean slate. I mean, I try to live a reasonably healthy lifestyle and be the person I want to be, you know, most of the time, but that brand new year inspires me to look at how I can improve, and why I want to improve. And then I set goals and make plans and work toward becoming that person I want to be.

I don’t set “I want to lose 10 pounds” types of resolutions, but I might set an intention to cook a little more at home, use more fresh produce, focus more on nutrition, etc. Scoff if you want, but every year, by making these resolutions, I get better and better at things like this — things that are important to me.

Just because I don’t get sappy over Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t mean I’m not all for celebrating love. If February 14 kindles your romantic fires, then you know what? That’s awesome, and I’m honestly happy for you and I hope you have an amazing holiday. Really. (But, of course, make sure you show your special someone how much you care on other days, too. Just a little pearl of wisdom from someone who’s been happily married for about a decade.)

As for me, I’m happy to spend my Valentine’s Day with Jared and/or with friends. Maybe I’ll even cook (because I do that now) and drink a little wine and enjoy the love and friendship that’s in my life. So I guess maybe I do celebrate Valentine’s Day a bit; just in my own way.

It’s times like this that I know I married the right guy

Jared (calling on his cell phone telephone): I’m stopping by Publix. You want anything?

Me: What are you getting?

Jared: Printer paper. And chips, to eat with my sandwich.

Me: Oooh! Yes! Chips! And Brussels sprouts!

Jared: Ok … why do you want Brussels sprouts?

Me: Because I also want a sandwich. *eye roll* So get me salty chips, alright? Oh, it’s gonna be so good. Tomato, too, please!

Jared: So, chips, tomato, and … Brussels sprouts?

Me: Yep. I cannot wait for this sandwich.


We hang up, and 30 seconds pass. The phone rings again.


Jared: Are you sure you meant Brussels sprouts?

Me: Of course I am oh my god why won’t you just get me things to make a damn sandwich?

Jared: So, you do not want bean sprouts? You actually want Brussels sprouts?

Me: … Oh. Oh jeez. I … oh my god, I hate Brussels sprouts.

Jared: I know.


And then we both fell over laughing and I realized that I will always have to be married to him because someone else might actually bring me Brussels sprouts and, obviously, then I’d have to kill them. The end.


Don’t you wish you lived with us?

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

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

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

J: …?

Me: I mean, it matters.

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

Me: But who does it have in it?

J: Liam Neeson.

Me: But Taken had Liam Neeson.

J: Yep.

Me: So, he did the same movie twice?

J: Do you want to see it or not?

Me: Again?

J: You haven’t seen this one.

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

J: *eye roll*

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

*Of course, by “actual” I mean as I remember it, which may or may not be accurate because, uh, memory of a goldfish over here. Oooh! Bubbles!

Moss Park Tri Race Report

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

Kristen and Patrick at Moss Park tri

With Patrick, sweaty, dirty and smiling big.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J: “Hey, where are you?”

Me: “Still at the race, packing up.”

J: “No, where are you?”

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

J: “NO. Where in the park are you?”

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

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

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

Not as difficult as you’d think

Back in the early days, when J and I were dating and just married, it was so weird to say good bye to each other for more than, like, the day. Now granted, I’m a more emotional person than most (and yes I cry at commercials and movie trailers all the time), but I would actually get teary if he was going out of town for two or three days.

(It was different, by the way, if I were the one leaving, because WOO HOO vacation!)

Now that he travels for work — a lot — that has obviously changed. After all, his first day of his current job was actually a two week trip to California and Puerto Rico, so we kind of had to get used to that quickly.

People are always asking me, “Isn’t that so haaard?” with a sympathetic tilt of the head. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried when we first realized just how much he’d be gone, but the thing that’s most surprising is how easily we both settled into things. I might talk to the dogs a bit more than I used to, and I definitely expect them to respond more often, but it’s very rarely lonely. And the nice thing is that, when he’s home, he’s really home. And since I work from home and we share an office, I get to see a lot of him when he’s here.

(Added bonus — when he’s been gone for a few days for work, I’m truly and genuinely excited to see him. How many people are that thrilled to see their spouses walk in the door after work?)

In fact, I just realized something last night. I’ve been trying to schedule my life around when he’s home; turning down offers for ladies’ night parties and other activities with girlfriends because he was in town and, well, didn’t that mean we needed to spend time together? And the irony of this is that it’s more important than ever that I have these friendships because there are so many days and nights when I’m on my own and would love to have something fun to do.

(Let me be very clear — at no point has J ever asked me to stay home with him. I mean, sure, he likes having me around — WHO WOULDN’T? — but he’s always encouraged me to hang out with my friends, and I’ve done the same for him.)

I read something the other day about how people don’t sleep enough during the week, and they try to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends, but it doesn’t work that way. Getting more on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t change the fact that you got so little the rest of the week — you’re better off aiming to make each hour of sleep you can squeeze the best it can be.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s not that I don’t love sitting around and doing nothing with my husband. I honestly do — Sunday afternoon happy hour on our back porch is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. But I also think it’s important that, rather than look at how much time we can spend in the same house, focus on doing more fun things, even if that means less time together.

So, I broke the cycle. He’s home this weekend, but I’m spending Saturday kayaking with friends. I don’t think we’ll have too hard a time squeezing in some fun on Sunday, especially if it’s anything like Sunday before last.

Hollie's first off-leash experience

Tired, happy girls

Also: THIRSTY. And cute.

Yes, those were gratuitous dog pictures, but Hollie just turned a year old and it seemed appropriate. You’re welcome.

Musings from a Rambling Man (Guest post by Jared)

So I have decided that Kristen is not the only talent in the house.  I am throwing my hat into the ring and posting a few things myself.  Since I am now traveling quite a bit, I run into many situations where I see humorous things and had no one to share them with.  You, lucky reader, shall now share them with me.  I would like to present Musings from a Rambling Man.

Many of the places I have been traveling through are small podunk towns in Florida.  These towns are so small that I can barely even call them towns.  They seem to have a strange fascination with fried chicken.  I saw a sign in one town claiming that they had the best fried chicken in town.  Now this place also happened to be the only place in town.  Did I mention that it was a restaurant inside the only gas station in town? Can you really make a claim like that without there being any sort of competition in town?  I was very tempted to find a local KFC and pass along the fact that this restaurant, probably the only one of its kind, claims their chicken is better than their thousands of stores around the world. Once I looked down the two side streets that radiated from the one stop light in town and knew I would not find a KFC.

Did you know that there is a town in Florida called Lorida.  Oh my god! When I saw the first sign “Lorida” I thought it had to be a decrepit sign.  Then every other sign displaying Lorida I felt like my IQ  might start dropping every moment I spent in the place.  What kind of a person says “hey you know what would be a great name for a place? Lorida, Florida! Isnt that awesome!?!”  They could not even have gone for Florida, Florida.  You know, like New York, New York.  No, they just decided that they should remove one letter to confuse and annoy people coming through their town for decades to come.

For my final musing, I have no picture evidence.  I’m kicking myself for not stopping and taking a picture.  We have many rivers and bridges in Florida, and I have seen many signs right before the bridge: Bridge Freezes Before Road (like roads ever freeze here) and Narrow Bridge are two that come to mind. Beware Buzzards on Bridge was a new one on me.

I mean do we really need to keep an eye out for birds?  Shouldn’t they be able to fly away long before you hit one?  If you ask me birds are one of the few animals expect to see in the road.  Can this possibly be the only bridge in Florida where the retarded buzzards hang out?  I am going to keep my eyes peeled for the buzzards and the sign so I can get some proof of this one.

Thanks for reading my first post.  I will keep you all up to date on any fun stuff I encounter in my travels.

She can fly!

We had a bit of excitement today. It was Jared’s last day of work at his old job — he’d been there for over 10 years, and he’s now moving on to his dream job, working for Oakley. He got out of work early, so we decided to take the afternoon to do something fun, and to celebrate. And because we’re good doggy parents, we took the dogs.

And, as it turns out, they can fly.




We went to Watermelon Pond, which doesn’t actually contain a pond (it dried up long ago), but has a giant field for the dogs to run in, and some really cool trees.





The dogs had a really hard time figuring out just how (or why) J was up in a tree. Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure about why he was up there, either, but it made for some good pictures.

At any rate, it was a damn good day. The sun was shining, but for once, it wasn’t hot. And, I got to hang with my man and my dawgs. What more could a girl ask for?