Identities – Part Two

I am half Chinese and half Danish/Scandinavian.   Most of my life I have considered myself to be just 100% Minnesotan.  It was easier to focus on the white part of my heritage and to be “colorblind” even to myself.  Then thirteen months ago it finally hit me  that I was a Woman of Color.

In the last year I have felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

After over a decade of personal bike journey I’m also claiming the identity of Biker.  My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

As a biker I can be doing nothing wrong.  I can be doing everything right.  Yet I must constantly be on alert for my safety.  Sometimes it’s people who actively don’t want bikers in their way.  More often it’s just because I’m invisible to them.  And then there are times when well meaning people end up putting me more at risk.  This is a problem on both an individual and systemic level.

A driver can do the entirely wrong thing, nearly kill me, and then be so angry at me as if I should apologize.  First they threatened me with their car.  Then I’m threatened by their anger.  Sometimes it’s because they actually hate bikers or are just hateful in general.  More often it’s because they were startled-scared and their reaction was self-righteous defense.

I’m not going to stop biking on streets.  But it would be nice to feel safer.  It might never be 100% safe (nothing is) but it would be nice to feel more secure in my right to the space.  It would be nice if the system didn’t feel set up against me (and it’s so much bigger than bike lanes).

Everyone has an opinion.   Not all bikers have the same experiences or are the same kind of biker.  Many people never or rarely bike and defend car-centric rights and use of space.  Many bikers want different things to make their experiences better.  But all the bikers I’ve met can be thankful to live here because it could be worse and believe it could be better.

Now read this again.  Replace biker with Person of Color and driver or car with white privilege.   I think this is what many have been saying about their experience as a Person of Color.

Maybe there is part of your identity that might help you better see the experience of others.  This was mine.

(Identities Part One is where I discovered that I’m Asian) 

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Identities – Part One

In this last year there are two identities that I’ve learned to claim.   Biker, and Woman of Color.

I don’t just bike.  I am a Biker.  It doesn’t matter what kind of bike, or how fast I am, or how far I bike.  Just as you don’t have to have done a marathon to be a Runner.  You don’t have to have art in a museum to be an Artist.  You don’t have to ovulate to be a Woman.  I can claim the identity of a Biker just because it’s one of the many things that I am.

I have been aware of my journey as a Biker far longer than I’ve been aware of myself as a POC (Person of Color).  I knew to check the “Asian” box, but it didn’t mean anything to me.  I think I didn’t want it to.  If given the option, I’d check both the “White” and “Asian” boxes because I wanted to feel more white.   It felt easier, less confusing, more comfortable.

Thirteen months ago I had an epiphany.   For the zillionth time in my life I had been referred to as a “Person of Color” and for the first time in my 34 years my brain said:

“HOLY SHIT.  That means ME.”  I saw this cartoon lightbulb pop up over me.
“I AM A WOMAN OF COLOR.  fuck.  this is news to me.  I HAD NO IDEA.”

Weird right?  I told my husband.
He said “I know.”
In my head “You knew?”  How did you know?  Who told you?”

I’ve been telling friends as if I’m coming out of the gay closet and the response I get is,
“Yeah.  I knew.  Of course you’re Asian.”
“Well I didn’t know.”

I still had to figure out what to do with this information.

In my heart I felt that because I didn’t have a “black” experience or hadn’t felt deeply oppressed or that I felt privileged that I wasn’t POC enough.

It took time, and conversations, and education.   I came to understand that I can have both negative and positive experiences associated with my mixed race.  I came to understand that there is both pride and shame in the history of every culture.  No individual or culture is 100% perfect or evil.  There have always been angels amidst atrocities.  Perpetrators of atrocities usually love someone or something.

And so I do not have to feel 100% about anything.  I can have felt the effect of bias or racism for myself or ancestors and still own my privilege.  I do not have to be full of pride or full of shame.  Discovering the injustices done to Asian Americans doesn’t have to compare to the injustices done to anyone else.  It is not a competition.  Owning the terrible things done by my white heritage doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Scandinavian or American traditions.

I’ve felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

Next week, Identities – Part Two

 

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Corn Curry Chicken Wild Rice Stew

I made a curry thing that doesn’t look like barf! It’s all due to Will’s fancy new camera. I’m sure in bad lighting it could still look unappetizing.  Let’s not dare it to.

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Will and I are about to celebrate five years of marriage and our epic 250 miles of paddle and portage honeymoon adventure with far too little time in the BWCA.

In the meanwhile I leave you with this wonderfully autumn “recipe” in which everything is a guess and you should make it your own. Continue reading

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Traditions, Triathlons, and Homes

Traditions are nice.  They are comforting when life feels chaotic.  It’s reassuring to repeat things.  Traditions are a reminder of what we feel is valuable to set aside time for.  The holidays are nice, but I’m really liking the athletic traditions I’ve been creating.

Velocikitty Snuggles celebrated our one year anniversary at the Square Lake Triathlon.  Which makes it a tradition now.  A really silly goofy wonderful tradition.

We had gotten way more into it last year. We had t-shirts, tattoos, special toenails… Dinosaur everything!

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This year we’ve both been been focused on different life projects.  We’d hardly seen each other all summer.  But we still painted our toes, and we had our dinosaur transition towels, and we passed ‘lil T (the squishy green guy) as our relay baton.

We got one pre-race selfie (pictured right) with ‘lil T and Rexy Roo (the plush dino backpack).

Despite minimal training, we did very well.  img_2962We placed 1st in our all women relay division and second among all relays.  I was surprised and pleased with my swim and run paces.

Traditions can also be a reminder of where we come from.   Swimming and running are deeply a part of my past.  Even when I’ve neglected them they feel like home.  Swimming and running welcome me back so easily.

While I’ve been trying new hard things (like flexibility and dance) and trying not to get frustrated with what feels like impossibly slow progress (I still can’t balance in a handstand) This race was a reminder of the depth of my roots in swimming and running.  People might be so frustrated at seemingly how easily I might run or swim with such minimal training.  But it comes from decades of experience.  It comes from years of dedication and effort and progress.

I have to remember I am an infant in the world of gymnastic and dance movement.  When I see images and videos of people who do amazing, mind-blowing, gorgeous feats of strength-flexility-control, I have to remember that we come from different athletic homes.  I am welcome in this new home, but it will feel awkward and foreign and that’s ok.  I do not have to be “good” at something for it to be valuable and meaningful to me.

Still, it’s nice to come home.  It’s nice to repeat traditions I know so well.  It’s nice to be in a community I feel so comfortable with.  I don’t have to look around wondering if I’m doing the right thing or in the right place.  It’s nice to feel effortlessly competent.   It gives me the strength and confidence to keep pursuing the new hard things.

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2017 Square Lake Triathlon 

So much love to all my athletic families.

As I wrote this I couldn’t help but think of the experiences of immigrants, of marginalized people, and anyone who feels they don’t belong.  I hope we can all reflect on personal experiences that might give us insight into the experiences that are not our own.  

 

 

 

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Fish Pie – weird, but good.

Hello!   It’s been a while.   I’ve got a bunch of excuses, but the biggest reason I didn’t blog is that I’m cooking up a big project.   I’ve been doing my darnedest to pull all my energy into it.   It’s almost ready and I’ll share as soon as it is.

In the meanwhile how about something weird?  Is sardine pie interesting enough?

Remember my hidden fish success back in April?  Lemony sumac yogurt and fresh bright veggies to balance/hide the sardines.   The flavors were a win. But it wasn’t practical enough for our lifestyle.   Which right now is lazy and inconsistent cooking.  I wanted all the components and flavors  but in a format that would make leftovers.

This seemed like an impossibly tall order.  Yet, watch mean leap over buildings!  Fish pie was even more successful!  Gold star for me.

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Continue reading

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Fish Ballet

I’ve been looking for ways to feel like a fish out of water while I take my hiatus from triathlon racing.   I got so comfortable in the world of triathlon, something that many people experience as awkward.  As a coach, I consider empathizing and guiding people through the awkward stage a critical professional skill.  I think coaches should regularly find ways to be completely out of their comfort zone.

Summer 2016 I did GMB Focused Flexibility and Elements programs. 

The first weeks were awesome.  Then progress became excruciatingly snail pace slow.  The program was also entirely online and I was ready to up the awkward ante.
dreamworks turbo snail

Winter 2017 I tried ExperTease’s Fiercely Flex class.

The whole loud music, burlesque and pole dance approach was not for me.  There was some stretching going on, but generally I felt a whole lot’a unsexy disjointed awkwardness.
awkward flamingo

Spring 2017 I spent with Querencia Fitness – Adult Gymnastics.

Gymnastics was way more fun and much closer to my comfort zone.  I still had some pretty great failing moments.
“Is this it? Am I doing it?” Immediately followed by falling over and giggling on the floor.  awkward baby elephant

Now in the Summer of 2017 I’m trying Fundamental Ballet with Zenon Dance School.

After trying a hip hop class and observing one ballet class I signed up.   Immediately I biked way way out of my way to arrive at a dance supply store, dirty and drenched in sweat.  The teenage employee was surprisingly gracious and helpful.  I was so excited to have new “sport gear” that I walked out of the store and had to put on my brand new ballet slippers.

I’ve now taken three classes.
In my mind I’m a natural Misty Copeland, looking all effortless rocking elegant athleticism.   She’s my new hero.

In reality I know I’m still a fish.  A fish trying to be a ballerina.  Fish out of waterYup.  That’s more like it.

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Type Two Fun Spiders

Totally random post.   Except because it was horrible at the time but I can’t stop telling the story it must be type two fun.

I’ll share the original telling of the tale, through Facebook messenger because I’m not the only storyteller here worth hearing.

Spider Story #1 Continue reading

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