Thursday, April 29, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the...

Dentist. If you know me, you know that the dentist office is one of the few places where my anxiety is crazy. I can go to a regular doctor and have blood drawn and shots and you could probably even cut me open, but the dentist office makes me want to cry like a little girl.

Anyway, on my way there this morning I almost ran over a police officer. Rather, a school patrol officer, but police all the same.

Okay, this was not funny at the time, but now that I'm almost an hour removed from the situation, its really, really funny.

Lets analyze: In the past three weeks, I have woken up before 8am probably once, and maybe not at all. So today, I had to be at the dentist office at 8, which meant I needed to get up by 7 to take a shower and allow travel time. No problem. Got up, showered, had some coffee, brushed my teeth, and headed out the door. Apparently, I didn't actually wake up. I drive these streets every day, I know where all the school zones are and when the speed limit changes, and I still almost ran over a man in uniform. In my defense, the school zone happens just after you start down a hill, there was no traffic driving with me or against me, and I honestly didn't think twice about it. And then, as soon as I realized it, I was probably less than 50 yards from this poor, innocent po-po going a good 40mph (which is the normal speed limit, people). I didn't have to screech to a stop, but I definitely couldn't ease into it. By the time I was about 10 yards from him, I was almost at a complete standstill, and then he beckoned me over to him. "Did you not see my yellow flashing lights indicating a school zone?" "I'm sorry" "It's 15mph through here" "I know. Duh" (I didn't actually say, "duh," that was just an inner thought) and then he just stared at me waiting for some kind of explanation. And all I could say was, "I wasn't paying attention." Which was true. If I had to lay my hand on a bible and profess in front of a jury, the statement was 100% accurate.

I can only imagine the situation being much like if you hadn't driven in rush hour traffic for some number of weeks or years, and then found yourself having to adjust to it. I'm not used to morning traffic. This is no excuse for almost steamrolling a police officer, but it does explain my next driving mishap.

After the dentist, which I survived without sweating, I went and got some coffee at Starbucks since I was in the area. Pause for social backlash. (Do you shop a Walmart? Even occasionally? Okay, then lay off my Starbucks.) I had to pull in and get out because the drive-thru line was so long. Got back in my car, backed out, started to pull toward the exit, and almost got plowed into by this crazy maniac lady on a mission in her red Subaru wagon. This was about the time that I started realizing the hilarity of almost running over a cop and then almost getting t-boned by a crazy lady.

Morning drivers, apparently, are more insane than rush-hour drivers. I'm used to the 4-6pm crowd that's never going fast enough, always in the wrong lane, and always talking on their phones. Morning drivers are on a mission.

This is the point where you could easily classify me as one of these missionaries because of said police officer pancake mishap, but I'm going to blame that purely on the fact that it was still somewhere in the 7am hour.

Do not worry, I promise that as long as I'm going to work when you are leaving, I will keep my morning driving hours to a minimum.

Side note: My dad is having his wisdom teeth out today. He's creeping up on 50 years old and he still has his wisdom teeth. Last night in the kitchen, he was asking me all kinds of questions about what to expect. I feel kind of sorry for the guy. Not only is he kind of late on getting them out, but he has all four still in, and all four are on the bottom. I didn't even know this was possible. Anyway, I have a good feeling that his experience will provide great material for a later post.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"If I behave like a victim, life was going to treat me like a victim—and I was going to create that reality."
Jillian Michaels

I am not allowed to run for 8 weeks (well 6 weeks now). Woe-is-me!

This affects my life negatively in the following ways:

a. No emotional or physical release of stress.
b. No good running buddy talks.
c. I have so much energy that has no where to go. (perhaps another reason I can't sleep?)
d. I am being forced to rest, to slow down, and I don't like to be forced into anything.

I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday, and I am sore. This is sad, considering I only did 3 exercises and none of them required that I leave my back. Believe me, I have had my run of the PT rooms and I am usually a champion at therapy, but in this case, I am not allowed to show my physical prowess. Luckily, I went into the surgery in great shape and I feel like my recovery time is going to be quick, but its not quite quick enough for me.

At some point in my softball career (and really, at any point) I apparently fractured my left knee cap. Obviously, it went untreated because a. I just found out about it, three years post-playing and b. my pain tolerance is outstanding. The fracture caused the cartilage under the knee cap to die, so when my orthopedic surgeon went in to fix my miniscus and clean house, he discovered the gaping hole under the kneecap. Now, I am in a period of re-growth.

Re-growth is a long, slow process no matter how you look at it. I feel like I've been in a re-growth period for some time, and I'm not just talking physically. The way I see it, everyone in my life did such an amazing job preparing me for life after high school, which was college. Maybe that's because I went to a college preparatory school. Maybe. College happened, and I rocked it. And then college was over and I was spit out into this real world full of real responsibilities. I don't feel like I'm failing at life, and this is not a moment of whining or complaining, but isn't there a handbook or something? Where are the guidelines and rules?

For instance, if my doctors and health insurance company would just work together, I wouldn't receive wasted paper statements every month stating that doctor didn't file with insurance on time, insurance didn't approve on time, or that under no circumstances should I ever receive treatment for anything, ever. Does the overseer have to be me? I thought health care was supposed to make our lives easier. I already have to pay $321 a month to even get health insurance, and now you are telling me that you can't cover me on something as necessary as a colonoscopy? I need a personal assistant. I don't have time to talk with your representative for 30 minutes about information that should already be in your database. Or just send me an email. I'll reply, I promise. In 3-4 business days.

Today, I returned a call about a benefit my health insurance package offers. It includes a nurse liason who will call and check up on me every 3 months to make sure I'm satisfied with my doctors and treatment plans. A very cool idea at its base. I, however, quickly found out that I know much more about my disease and how I'm handling it than these people do. And I also trust my doctors. So, can I trade this service in and get you to cover my treatments a little more efficiently? Thanks.

Dealing with health care is just one tiresome effect of responsibility. Nowhere in Shakespeare or Donne did I read about real-life responsibilities. And I never took the "How to survive after college" elective course. Taxes elude me, I don't know how to invest money, I can barely keep up with health insurance issues, I do know how to pay a credit card bill and balance my check book, and I've never broken down on the side of the road because I forgot to put gas in my car. If everyone would just slow down, I could get back to you in 3-4 business days.

Someone actually called me the other day from an unknown number. I usually do not answer these calls, but let them go to voicemail. I like to feel a little prepared for a conversation. On this occasion, however, I answered. And apparently, the voice on the other end could sense that I was timid in my hello. He actually said, "Hey, don't worry, I'm not a bill collector." Could he read my mind? Not that I have bill collectors calling all the time, but I do have quite a few reality checks calling every week. "Hi, Hello, you are a grown up, and this is your grown up responsibility. No, I do not care that you don't understand, just make sure you do this."

My dad's mom, who passed away when I was 15, was, and is still, an inspiration to me. She had this crazy ability to stay young for forever. She was always playing on the floor with us, had this unique ability to be carefree. Now, more than ever, I realize what a special trait this was. Because she was able to handle adult responsibility without sacrificing her innate ability to enjoy life like a child. To laugh all the time and never seem stressed out about looming adult matters. Then again, I met her later in her life. So, maybe she worked really hard to make everything seem trivial. Maybe she felt the same way I do when she was 24. That's what I'm going to go with; she faced everything head on early in life so that she could enjoy it later.

I'm a procrastinator at my very center. I'm always at least 3-5 minutes late for everything, enjoy the rush of doing something at the last minute, and I don't like to plan. I've worked on getting better at this, and I've been successful, but I still am, and will probably always be, a procrastinator. But can you procrastinate at life? I'm not saying that I don't want to grow up--I've been excited to be 50 for a long time. And that's just because I can see the ease of age set in on people. When the matters that stress me out the most don't even cause a mature adult to blink an eye. But I'm a kid adult, and I don't know what I'm doing yet.

Two points: Have you watched "Life" on the Discovery Channel yet? And also, have you watched "16 and Pregnant" on MTV? Okay, in "Life" you see animals in their natural habitat give birth (or hatch some eggs) and then nurture their offspring for anywhere from a month to a year, and then let their offspring either jump out of a nest and try to not die as they fall 50ft to the ground or let them wonder off to find their own food, hoping that by chance they don't get eaten by a large lizard. In "16 and Pregnant" you see young children bear offspring, fight with their impregnators, try to finish school, work, breast feed, and fight with their parents about their horrendous notion of responsibility. Here's the connection: In a way, I feel like I'm one of those birds that's been left to jump out of a nest, and I might die (though not really, probably just fail) on my way to the ground. I could get eaten up with responsibility as I'm trying to find my way. BUT, I'm not 16 (though I once was) and I'm not pregnant (nor have I ever been), and my responsibility compared to that of a 16 year old mother is quite slim. I have often thought, though never wished this upon myself, that if I were to accidentally get pregnant today, I could handle it. I've got a job, a great support system, and the means in which to make it work. But, holy cow, no. The situation would be much like if the little chick hatched from her egg and then immediately laid an egg. The little chick wouldn't even understand what the egg implied.

So, at the very least, I understand what the egg implies, but I do not understand health care or how to get a loan. Good thing I'm not trying to hatch eggs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sleeping (or not)

"Late at night when all the world is sleeping, I stay up and...." well, I don't do anything. I just stay up. Lately, this nocturnal habit of mine has become a strange game that my mind and my body play with me, and I have no control. On Saturday, Matt dropped me off at home at about 11pm after we cooked dinner and watched a movie. I wasn't particularly tired, but I got myself prepared for bed. And then my body revolted. I stayed up until 7am. I watched the entire season so far of Kirstie Alley's Big Life. Its a good show, and I really did laugh out loud numerous times, but WHAT?!

So last night (Sunday), all I could think about was how I was going to get back into my bed and not do what the bed was intending. Not sleep. I did sleep, but only after assessing every detail of the previous day and night, trying to figure out why I hadn't slept. And the major thought that kept scrolling through my head was will I ever sleep again? Of course I will. We can't live without sleep, and as I found out yesterday as I was working, we definitely can't function to the best of our abilities without sleep. But still, the thought of never sleeping again was scary.

I have mild, self-diagnosed insomnia. I have a hard time turning my brain off at night, simply put. During the day, if you told me that I had 32 minutes before I had to be somewhere, I would lay down and use 30 of those minutes for a nap. I can nap on command. A full night's sleep, however, is a large, looming challenge most nights. Once I fall asleep, I am a champion; you can't wake me up with a tornado or a house fire. Its the getting there that tends to be so hard.

Last night, although I did fall asleep at a reasonable hour (for me. Not for someone who has to get up for work at 6am), there were a few long seconds of panic as I couldn't get my head comfortable on my pillow. Okay, I know this is stupid, but these are really the things that I'm worrying and thinking about when I should be sleeping. And really, just for a second, imagine your most restless night. How frustrating it is to look at the clock every hour? The anxiety ripens as you realize at 1am you're not sleeping. 3 am. 4:30am. And then, instead of trying to actually get to sleep, your brain takes over and there is no possible way to get to a relaxed state. So, while most people will run for their medicine cabinet to fish out the benadryl or niquil, I give in to not sleeping. Its way easier.

I don't know why I am surprised. When I was little, I would fight sleep---we're talking wrestle, throw low punches, spit in the eyes of sleep. Please don't misunderstand, I have a very loving, respectful relationship with sleep now. But it is on my terms. That is my only rule.

And now onto all of the reasons I've pondered late at night as to why I'm not sleeping:

1. I coach high school girls. We are in season.

Yes, that's the only reason that I've come up with. Or the only one that doesn't involve a completely hallucinated, over-wrought life dilemma. And until you have been where I am, you have no idea.

But I will try to explain. I love softball, so that part of coaching is great. Its the kids that make it so hard, although rewarding (more so this year than last, so I guess we're going somewhere). But the damn kids. I like to think that I was not so stubborn and strong willed at the tender age of 14-17, but lets face it, I probably was. I find myself thinking daily where have all the parents gone? Because (and I know that I have no children, so have no real grounds to say this) coaching is as much parenting as it is about the sport. I tell you what, these kids are disrespectful and don't know it, they have no concept of responsibility, and they are fearless. Do I sound like a grandparent yet?

I spend about 80% of my time right now figuring out the next way to get through to them. The other 20% I spend reminding myself that I have to eat, take a shower, and somehow sleep. With my lessons, the parents and the kids have come to me for a service in which they are paying outright for my knowledge and opinion. With my team, they could care less if I'm even paid for my job, are worried about who is starting where and why so-and-so didn't get to hit her next at bat because she fell down on her ass swinging at a ball four feet over her head, and are we going to get out of school early for our 6:30pm game? And the simple fact of the matter is that it is my team. So every decision, down to what color socks we wear, is mine. Which, in some senses, is fabulous. Most of the time, its a headache. Don't ask me if you can go to the bathroom, just go. If you want to know why you aren't playing, just ask. When I said be on the bus at 3:30, I didn't mean 3:35, and yes, you really will run for being late. All of these issues were addressed at the beginning of the year and handed to you on a piece of paper that probably never made it to your car. And you ask why I always seem frustrated?

On that note, I am a positive coach. I make it a point to never belittle a player, and if I need to call someone out, I'm going to pull them off to the side and ask them quietly what the hell they were thinking. After last season, which tested my patience to the limit, I've had to become much more okay with the fact that some of the kids I have to put on the field just suck. And its not their fault. I grew up in a softball community, and some of these kids have not, will not, and do not want to be exposed to that. I still have to find ways for them to win. And I also have to teach them that it is not okay to YELL "shit" every time they mess up.

This is the point of no sleep.

The point where most of the time I think about what I need to do with them for it to click together (while at the same time realizing that it might not happen), but often I think that being a head coach is just not for me. I'm not going to lie, I think I'm really good at it. If I didn't, I probably would have walked away. The question is, do I enjoy it? And, yes, there are a lot of moments when I am a proud mama bear. There are also a lot of moments when I stick my hands deep in my pockets, kick the dirt, and think if they aren't going to do what I'm telling them to do, we aren't going to win, and this is just...stupid. What I need is one kid who takes it seriously to graduate, come back, and tell me that I impacted her life positively in some way. Because I'm beginning to think that most of my kids will graduate and never think of softball again.

I want them to at least feel some responsibility to get to class on time, and if that's the only thing, I need to know that I did that.

Today on the bus, driving to a horrible, ugly loss, I was doing stats for my team. The highest batting average is .588 and the lowest is .279 (I don't know how to punctuate after a decimal number. Is it ".279."? or...I don't know) Last year, the highest batting average was a little over .300, so please, take a minute and imagine my surprise and delight. I haven't done stats all year! Because the stats don't mean anything if you aren't winning, right? Well, this little surprise gave me that glimmer of hope in my cold, hard heart that maybe we're doing something right. Maybe it is worth sticking around for.

You can ask Matt, I am way less a bitch than I was last season. I couldn't separate softball and my team from real life. And I was in complete and total boss mode. I think I've gotten a lot better, although I still don't sleep during season. But six weeks is not a long time to lose sleep over. Maybe I'll figure that out next year.

And now that I've analyzed the hell out of the not sleeping conundrum, maybe when I go lay my head on my pillow, there will be nothing left to ponder.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Ha, yes! Blaes has a blog. And if you know me, this is a really late start.

I like to talk, I like to read, and I like to write. And that is why I was an English major. Then, life started happening really fast and I graduated, and I got a job (whether or not you want to classify it as "real" is to your own discretion) and I got engaged (!) and life just keeps swirling around while I try to keep up with it. Regardless, writing was once something that I did often--not necessarily only for 30-page papers, but something that I enjoyed. And I think I was pretty good at it, but sitting here now to introduce this blog, I realize that I am very much out of practice.

So, this "blog" (which, when you think about it, isn't "blog" such a strange word?) is not about anything in particular. It might not last more than a week or a month. It is definitely not to document every special detail of my wedding plans (to which I am already at a loss). I'm hoping to reach some sort of cathardic release by writing things down which I probably wouldn't say. Because I am the kind of person who chews things up over and over and over again in my head until I drive myself a little mad (and definitely to insomnia). And I intend to address you, dear reader, as some faceless listener who will give me no reply. Let's face it, if I needed an opinion, I have plenty of people to confide in. So, simply put, I'm planning to be selfish.

This year (which I just realized has no actual timeline to could include 2008, 2009, and the current 2010) has been extremely challenging for me on so many levels. Like I said, I graduated from college. But then I started grad school while I finished my last year of eligibility for softball, so my "life" in terms of career and non-school related activities didn't start right away. And then I got a job offer before I even finished my first year of graduate school, to which, of course, I said yes. Because that doesn't just happen to people. Everyone is trudging around trying to find work right now, and I get a call before I'm done educating?! So, I packed up and came home and started working while I tried to finish grad school (which I haven't done) and I haven't stopped moving since.

This is the pause in the information for a small soap box: When experienced people tell you to stay in school as long as you can or need to, please listen. It is really cool that I have the job that I do. Really, really cool. But I always intended to finish my degree, and that hasn't happened yet, and there doesn't seem to be a good time to make that happen. So, choices, I guess.

Working, working, working. Playing a lot and a little in between. But working. And, just like any job, I'm working to make sure that people know who I am, and know that I'm kicking ass at what I do. Which, by the way, it is really hard to kick ass when more people want you to fail than they want you to succeed. And, if you are being honest with yourself, everyone loves to see a good failure. Its human nature. So, if you want your kick assery to be known, you've got to just let the haters wait it out and get on board.

Lowest point of the year (and I'm going to go ahead and say it, I'm tired of talking about it): In September, I had to have my second small-bowel resection. Everyone tells me now that they knew I wasn't well for some time, but I don't remember feeling ill. I don't remember suffering through much. But everyone says it started around the end of July. To me, it felt like my life stopped moving in a very abrupt manner.

I got stuck for a long time. I felt fairly normal, like I had moved beyond everything and re-assimilated into life. And I feel certain that if I had the words to describe it even now, it would have helped me then. But I was hopeless for the first time in my life. I was living every day as a fake: I am a sick person living a well person's life.

I know, drama, drama. And even in claiming that it was dramatic, I am showing you one of my life's major coping skills: pretending everything is okay. So, long story short, I repressed my anxiety and guilt for months and I wasn't even aware of it until a short, mean little psychiatrist who I was required to see at Vanderbilt before they would let me see a GI doctor told me that I had a mood disorder. A what? Dude, I am truly one of the happiest people you will ever meet.

Long story short, although this guy was a prick, he made me really think about my health on more than a physical level. So, after about a month of seething, I decided I would never talk to him again. And I found a nice lady who would force me to share every woe-is-me moment of my life, past and current. She's nice enough, only gives me those deeply understanding eyes maybe once every hour that I'm there, and mostly she just listens and doesn't judge. She asks some mighty tough questions though, which might catch you off guard if you assess her by her homilier-than-thou appearance of not blow-dried long mousy hair and loose, flowing clothes. While I mock her, she did help me understand some huge things about myself and about the events of the year:

a. I am not guilty for being sick. I didn't take medicine from years 18-24. And even still, I might have had to have this second surgery. I might have to have another one. Not my fault.

b. It was a big deal.

c. I am a chronic coper. Give me a situation, and I will figure out the best way to cope with it, even if I have to carry it on my back for 2 weeks.

d. Its okay to talk about. In fact, its necessary. And so I started talking about it more, and until I was unable to say another word about it. "This is what I've been through..." "This is how it has affected me..." "This sucks because..."

e. All of these feelings will cycle through again. The guilt of seeing so many doctors and spending so much money. The guilt of burdening my friends with complaints regarding anything to do with all of it. The anxiety of worrying about whether or not something is going on in my body that I can't feel. And constantly coping with all of this....

A few weeks ago, my lady asked me to start keeping a mental journal. To which my mental reply was, "Lady, don't you see that I already do that?" What she meant was, she wanted me to record every moment that I felt guilt, anxiety, any negative feelings. She wanted me to organize my thoughts into three sections: Event, Thought, Action. Okay, if we live in the real world, and I do, we don't have time to stop and assess every stop sign we come to. But I guess she's talking about the more major ones. She gave a mental tool that I think is really awesome: imagine the problem like a big cloud of fog (I always imagine it over the river, and I'm standing on my running bridge), you can see it coming, you can see it when it is upon you, and then you can see it when it has moved past.

So, my lady, as I call her, has not healed me. She hasn't given me some secret that will fix every negative feeling that I have. But she has helped me cope, which is ironic because I'm trying not to have to cope so much. And I haven't felt hopeless in months. In fact, I'm thinking about breaking up with her.

And now we can get to the title of the blog. While I said the topic will not document every detail of wedding planning bliss (and, can I take that back? I might have to include some of it. Give me a break) the title has a lot to do with it. Because leaving behind a name like Schmissrauter and trading it in for Green is going to make my life so much easier. I could ramble on about all the beautiful, romantic ways in which Matt makes my life better, but the simple fact is that I get a nice, easy, Smith-like name. Please don't misunderstand, I love my family name and everything that it stands for, but my God! It takes me at least 30 seconds just to sign a check. And half the time when someone writes me a check, they write "Blaes -----" in the made out to line. I realized by the age of 9 that my name is Blaes and that it is different, interesting, sometimes tiresome. I also realized that I could get rid of the cumbersome Schmissrauter at some point, having found the right person and not marrying into a Jedrochowski. Life is full of small successes.