My Hair: A battle not worth fighting…

Battle not with monsters lest you become one.” -Freidrich Nietzsche

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” -Jonathon Kozol

I come here today to discuss a topic that has been flirting with relevancy among every day occurrences for quite some time. Which battles do you fight, and which ones do you walk away from, tail in between legs?

I hesitate, slightly… because the title, “Battles” may signify to you, the rightfully hesitant reader, that some deep, heart-wrenching experiences are about to be evoked awkwardly via public blog. But then I remember, I, Lauren Kleppin, am the author of this post.  And you, if you don’t already know, should know that I, Lauren Kleppin, don’t have a heart, nor the capacity to even pretend to wrench yours.  No outpouring of personal emotional scars here, people.  If those type of things make you squeamish, multiply that by ten, and you will feel my pain.  But again…. let’s not get too serious or deep here.

Regarding the topic of battles, I guess some situations are just pure common sense.  For instance, when I peer into the mirror each morning, I know I won’t fight the battle with the mess piled on top of my head.  That rat nest, ahem, my hair, is a monster, Nietzche.  I don’t want to become a hairy, scary monster.  Neither does my brush.

Hair aside, the topic of this post was actually inspired by my workout the other day.  I self-prescribed some mile repeats in my training regimen.  This workout followed a recent half marathon in Hollywood, which left me with hobbling on tight calves and a broken stride- reminiscent of Quasimodo from that movie Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Anyway, my broke Quasimodo shuffle led to some pain that I was determined to power through in order to get some type of measurable workout in… before I get on back on the track (at SAC), which is coming up way too soon.

I was well on my way into finishing a decent workout- the times were progressively getting faster… too bad my calves were also getting tighter, and my thoughts grimmer.  The snaps, crackles, and pops were becoming ominous (with age, you realize “Snap, Crackle and Pop” are not deliriously happy precursors to a delicious, sugar-ridden, marshmallow-y cereal treat, but instead reminders of every single crash, bump, and bruise taken on over the years.)  You know one of the snaps, or crackles, or pops, will, with time and dismissiveness, signal defeat… NO TREAT.

Back to the workout.  With one mile repeat left, a minute into it, full speed, I felt a little pop in my right foot.  Enough of a pop to have me reeling, stopping, still breathing, pushing the stop button on my watch, and considering what “Pop” here was trying to tell me… and whether or not I could/should soldier on through.  A moment of truth… before battle.

The most serious I will get is something I wrote in my training log that day:

Training alone offers this strange dichotomy.  It is incredibly easy to give up.  No one there is a witness.  No one there is a coach.  No one there is a partner.  There is simply no one to impress, report to, or disappoint.  However, it is just as incredibly difficult to give up.  There is no one there to pick you back up after failure.  No one, but you.  You have to be strong for yourself.

(I pressed the start button seven seconds later and finished the damn workout, by the way.)

So I won that battle.  Maybe?  At least I feel somewhat victorious, and “Pop” didn’t decide to end my career that day.

But I am not always the fearless, (or moreso heedless) warrior.  Another situation, in which many I feel would have put up some sort of fight, elicited nothing from me.  Nothing… Except a few kicks to an innocent snowbank, and a brief episode of Tourette’s, but all in the safety of solitude.

So, one sunny morning, I get a phone call from my boss at the mountain.  He was “terminating” me.  I kind of saw this coming.  If anyone ever dreams to be a “liftie”, please, go back to bed, take some drugs or something, and try to dream again.  I won’t go into all the details of the background nonsense…. but when I asked him if he wanted to talk about it further, he said, “Well Lauren, that one day you called in sick, I saw you running on Towne Trail.  I hope you enjoyed your run, but I’ve got a department to run.”

Well played, sir. Touché. No battle here.  I said, “okay,” politely, and ended the phone call.

(It was March.  The trails were clear.  The snow on the mountain sucked anyway.  I was enjoying rendezvous trips to San Diego.  Yeah. I was ready to be done with the season.)  So I accepted his snide remark without comment, and even kind of chuckled on the inside.

The next day, I had to go in to collect my last check, turn in the hideous uniforms, watch my season pass get ripped to shreds, and find Mister Boss to sign my termination papers.  Again, I was handling this situation quite well; especially for it being the first time ever getting fired…  Fired for running.

I found him in his office, with a bunch of his cronies.  There may have been more, behind the desk he refused to move from, kissing his ass, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

He took the papers, and in the brief minute it took him to sign, there was an uneasy sense of awkwardness among all the company in the room, like they just wanted to break out in a fit of shits and giggles, giggles and shits.  I didn’t care.  I just wanted my last paycheck, and to get on with my day.  I took the paper and was already half way out the door when Mister Chuckle Fuck behind the desk pipes up and says, “Where are you headed now… Out for a run?…” in a tone that crept up my spine and struck a nerve or two.

This comment was unnecessary.  This comment got the others in the room to finally shit their constipated giggles out of their asshole mouths.  This comment wasn’t even fucking clever.

What irked me the most was that it was clear they looked at me like some sort of “Workout Barbie.”

Just some chick that wears pink by choice (I swear it’s what Adidas and Nike sent me).

Just some chick that works out to look good in a pair of jeans. (I don’t even own a pair of jeans.)

Just some chick that runs to stay skinny. (It is not my choice to look like an emaciated twelve year old.)

But this battle was not one to be fought…  He may have a department to run.  But I was done.  And I have goals to run.

Moral of the story here… Battles will spring up in all different shapes and forms, day by day.  It is a personal choice, and a situational choice, on whether to fight or take flight.

In a funny but grim way, I look at our silly preoccupation with running as a battle… unfortunately a losing battle.  I can’t help but to see it as us all caught up, slowly fighting to our mortal and imminent deaths.  Eventually, life, the body, and age, will force all of us to look at running in a different way, or for some of us, to walk completely away.

All I can really say is, enjoy the small victories along the way.  Oh yeah, and brush off the other stuff.  Oh, and also, brush your hair… lest it become a monster.