Minty Badness

I finally broke down and paid the big bucks to see a doctor over my digestive issues. He said it’s most likely a virus, and I’m doing all the right things, but to start taking Imodium. I’d been taking Pepto, but I guess Imodium’s different in that it helps slow things down and bring everything together, if you know what I’m talking about. In the last few days that I’ve been Imodiuming it up, I’ve found that it also makes my butt minty fresh; a feeling that I do not quite enjoy. I have a love-hate relationship with mint that leans heavily on the hate side.\r\n\r\nAs a kid, I really didn’t care for traditional candy canes. I’d eat them when my friends were eating them in order to fit in, or I’d eat them in the days leading up to Christmas when they were the only candy option and I wanted a sugar fix. Come Christmas morning, Santa would leave fruity candy canes on the tree to save me from my peppermint hell. Altoids came out when I was in high school, and one day at lunch, my cousin’s friend pulled out the little red tin and told us that they were the strongest mints she’s ever had, and would we like to try one? I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to look like a loser, so I grabbed one of the chalky mints and popped it into my mouth. I immediately wanted to spit it out, but I sucked it up as it burned a hole into my tongue and tears welled in my eyes.  When no one was looking, I spit it out into the bushes.\r\n\r\nI have no transition into this paragraph: I have thick, wavy hair, and as a youngster, it ran down to my butt. While it was fun to have Rapunzel-ish hair, it also grew like a weed and had to be trimmed fairly often. To save on costs, my mom would do this herself in our bathroom.  It took forever, and because it was so long, I was made to stand throughout the entire process so that she could reach down to cut it. Despite trying not to, every single time, I’d lock my knees, and half-way through the haircut, would suddenly be filled with the overwhelming sensation of smelling mint (which is weird on its own, but even weirder considering that I have no sense of smell). As soon as mint entered my nostrils, my vision would become blotchy, or come to a pinpoint, and I’d meekly tell my mom that I was about to faint. I have never actually fainted all the way, but without fail, I always “smell” mint in the moments leading up to a potential passing out. I’ve never met anyone else who’s had that sensation, so I’m not sure why it happens to me. Must be my brain creating, what it thinks is, the worst possible scent in a moment of despair.\r\n\r\nHere comes the part where I love mint. I had just graduated from 8th grade and was at a farm in Savannah, Georgia. We were taking a tour of the grounds, and stopped by a row of mint plants. The leader told us to pick a leaf, dig our nails into it, and take a smell.\r\n\r\nDespite my anosmia, I went through the motions so as not to be rude. However, as I brought the small leaf up to my nose and inhaled, I actually did smell mint! I was elated, and carried that leaf with me throughout the rest of the tour, taking whiffs along the way. Within minutes, my nose remembered that it wasn’t supposed to work, and I could no longer smell that leaf no matter how hard I tried. I have no idea why I was able to smell at that exact moment, but I will forever cherish that memory and the feeling of smelling.\r\n\r\nFor that gift I was given 18 years ago, I am eternally grateful to mint. I guess I can put up with a little tingle after a poop for a few more days.\r\n\r\n

Why a company thinks “mint flavor” is a good thing is beyond me. Photo Source

Why a company thinks “mint flavor” is a good thing is beyond me. Photo Source

Cruisin’ Cousins

I spent most of last weekend in Northern California with my family. My cousin, Ashley, is getting married in Portland next month, so my mom and I went up for her bridal shower and to spend some time catching up with our kin. Ashley’s actually my third cousin (I think?). Our moms are first cousins. As a child, I’d known of most of my third cousins’ existence on that family branch, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007 that I really became close with Ashley, along with her first cousins (my third cousins?), Nicole and Danielle.  Now that you’re thoroughly confused, I’ll continue.\r\n\r\nThis past weekend was the first time the four of us were all back together in six years. The days were full of good food, tons of alcohol, and a lot of laughs. It was also full of a poor digestive system on my part. I had had some issues before we headed up there, but it definitely wasn’t clearing up. I’m sure downing margaritas with every meal didn’t help either. Despite the annoyance of it, I had to chuckle to myself, because the last time my cousins and I were all together, it had ended with me being best buds with my toilet.  Maybe they’re poisoning me?\r\n\r\nIn August of 2007, I went on a family cruise to the Mediterranean to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of my Great Aunt and Uncle (Ashley, Nicole, and Danielle’s grandparents). During the days, I was sightseeing with my mom, but back on the ship at night, I was hitting the bars with my cousins. Our final docking point was Barcelona, and we all decided to stay there a few days before heading back home.  During this time in Spain, my mom and I spent more of the daytime with our family, since we were no longer obligated to attend the separate tours that each of us had signed up for during the cruise.\r\n\r\nOn one such day, we all sat down to a delicious seafood lunch of clams and mussels. We then decided to walk the shore and share pitchers of sangria at a dockside restaurant. Afterwards, most of the family decided to catch a ride back to the hotel, but Nicole, Danielle and I, just getting our buzz on, opted instead to walk back home and grab a beer or two along the way.  We stopped at the first bar we saw and ordered a beer each. They were so cheap, that I remember only throwing down a few coins, which covered the drink and tip. Armed with this knowledge, we made a pact right then and there that we would stop at every bar we encountered along the way home to have a beer.\r\n\r\nWe did.\r\n\r\nAnd I lost count.\r\n\r\nBut I do recall being at one of the last stops, and feeling the urge to vomit. I’d figured I had finally met my limit. The restrooms in that bar turned out to be downstairs in a dank, blueish-green basement, which was not easy to stumble down in my toasty disposition. Somehow, I made it down unharmed, did my business, felt better, and continued on with our journey, not letting on that I puked.  When we returned to the hotel, we made plans to sleep off our drunk and meet back up for dinner and dancing in the nearby clubs.\r\n\r\nSleeping would have been lovely, if only my stomach would have allowed it. I quickly realized that my vomiting from earlier was surprisingly not, in fact, due to the copious amounts of beer I had consumed, but rather, to food poisoning. I was constantly running to the toilet, and it wasn’t to puke. Suffice it to say, I skipped out on dinner, and sadly, missed the nightlife I had heard so much about.\r\n\r\nRegardless of my intestinal issues, that trip was one of the best of my life, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bond with my cousins. The four of us are scattered across California, and it’s a shame we can’t all be together more often, but I cherish the times that we are.  It’s always a blast for me!  Figuratively and literally.\r\n\r\n

The cruise photographer took her job way too seriously and refused to put us in a funny pose. After we came up with this, she made us take a nice one. We all bought this one.

The cruise photographer took her job way too seriously and refused to put us in a funny pose. After we came up with this, she made us take a nice one. We all bought this one.

Another Time I Peed My Pants

I wish I could say that the marathon was the only time I peed my pants as an adult, but sadly, it is not. Since I’ve been a child, I’ve had this problem where I do small leaks of urine when I’m having too much fun hiding or being mischievous. Let me put it this way: when I would play hide-and-go-seek, I’d be silently laughing to myself so hard, that I’d ever so lightly pee my pants. I never grew out of that. Which makes me wonder if it’s not necessarily bladder issues, but just that I’m perpetually six years old.\r\n\r\n In any case, I had more than a slight leak one time back in college. (I think of college students as kids now that I’m old, but technically, college students are primarily legal aged adults, so I’m still counting this as an “adult” experience.) I was hanging out with two of my Cross Country buddies, Leti and Mike, in Mike’s dorm room, which happened to be just one floor down from my dorm. For some reason, Mike left Leti and me alone in his room for a decent amount of time. Noticing that he had hardly any clothes hanging in his closet, we thought it’d be brilliant if we stole his clothes (and his Nabisco cookies that also happened to be in there) and trudged them up to my room.\r\n\r\nWith an armful of jeans and shirts, we bolted out of his room, slammed through the staircase doors, and laughed wholeheartedly as we climbed the stairs to my floor. That’s when it happened. I began urinating, and it wasn’t just a tad. I instantly dropped to my knees in the hopes that I could withhold the flood that was trying to pour out of me. Leti thought I tripped, and I didn’t correct her. Instead, I urged her to continue, reassuring her that I was okay and I’d be right behind her. Fortunately, I was able to control my bladder, but when I stood, I knew that the damage was done. The dampness I felt between my legs was mortifying, and I was grateful that the door to my room was right next to the staircase. I deposited my armful of clothes on my bed next to Leti where we continued laughing and catching our breath. I caught a glance of myself in the mirror, and saw that my pee soaked pants weren’t noticeable at all. However, even without having a sense of smell, I knew the stench of urine could creep up at any moment, and I had to get out of those jeans! I quickly grabbed a pair of shorts and underwear, and ran to the bathroom without explaining where I was going or why. I came back clad in shorts and shamefully muttered something about being hot from running up the stairs and wanting to change into something cooler. Luckily, Leti completely bought that story, and I was able to toss my stinky clothes in the back of the closet.\r\n\r\nI never did tell Leti the truth. At the time, it was entirely too embarrassing to confess, and as time went on, it was hard to come up with reasons to ever bring it up. I can just imagine: “Hey, you wanna hear about the time I peed my pants with you? Well, not that you peed your pants, but there was this time that I wet myself and you happened to be there…”\r\n\r\nYeah, that wasn’t gonna happen. But exposing my shameful secret a decade later on a blog? Now that I can do!

Hate to Phone

Finding a venue for my wedding is proving to be frustrating and stressful. At one point last week, I truly thought it was going to be impossible; however, I’ve recently been able to shorten the list and highlight places I’d like to visit based on information I’ve received…information I’ve received solely through email. One thing many people don’t know about me is that I do not like talking on the phone. And I don’t mean that in a personal preference sort of way. I mean it in a I get mild anxiety over the thought of making a phone call sort of way.\r\n\r\nI’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Though I was a shy and quiet child, I did not have a problem picking up the phone to call my friend Sarah to inquire as to whether or not she could walk down the street to come over and play. I did, however, have a problem calling her if it was just to chat. We actually used to talk on the phone quite frequently, and though I can’t physically remember, I’m almost certain that those phone conversations started because Sarah called me, not vice versa. It’s not as though I didn’t want to talk to her; I did. It was the build-up in my mind prior to the phone call that would prevent me from calling in the first place. What if she doesn’t want to talk right now? What if her family is eating dinner? What if she wants to come over, but she can’t because my brother’s friends are already here? In the end, I usually just didn’t call.\r\n\r\nAs an adult, I’m wrought with the same worries and anxieties; the difference being that I actually have to make certain phone calls—like to doctors. Before I make the call, I dialogue in my head exactly what I’d like to say to the person I’m calling. Once I figure out my phrasing, I grab a piece of paper to write out verbatim opening statements, along with bulleted points or questions I would like to bring up during the conversation. I guess my worry is that I will forget what I want to ask, or come across as a bumbling moron. Even when I have my “script” written out, I will put off an important call for days until I work up my nerve and find just the right moment in my day to phone them (aka I need to be completely alone with the windows and doors shut tight). Yeah, the thought of anyone overhearing an important call scares the crap out of me because I feel as though they will be thinking that they could have made that same call a lot better and with more finesse than me. And that’s not even because I think that I’m surrounded by “judgy” people; it’s simply a self-confidence issue within myself.\r\n\r\nMaking a phone call to a friend is a whole other story. For those…well, those just usually don’t happen. It bums me out that I can’t just pick up the phone and call a friend, but unless I have some major news to share, I get all my old hang-ups over calling. It’s been months since I last called…what if they give me a hard time about that? What if she’s busy and she’s only talking to me to be nice? What if I run out of things to say? \r\n\r\nSo because of this quirky aspect of mine, I’m dependent on the wedding venues to actually email me back their details, which is not necessarily the preferred avenue of contact for some of the smaller places. Many have been great in sending me information in a timely manner, while others that I’d really like to know more about, sit overlooked on my list because I’m too scared to call. I know I’m going to have to suck it up and create my listed dialogue eventually, but what’s a few more days gonna hurt?

My Immunes! (A Story of Yellow Toenails)

I was told that while the stitches in my ankle’s tendon are holding, my tears have likely not healed. I did not find this surprising, as my body has competed against my desire to be healthy and normal my entire life. Next week, I will be undergoing a natural healing process where my blood’s platelet rich plasma will be separated and injected into my tendon in the hopes that those beneficial growth factors will speed up the healing process. In the meantime, it’s two more months of complete inactivity (besides regular walking, and thankfully, no wearing of the boot).\r\n\r\nWhile grateful for an answer, this means that I will have to forgo the marathon I had planned to race in this coming Sunday. Being that I wasn’t able to train properly anyway, it’s probably more of a blessing. Also, surprise, surprise, I managed to gain not one, but two ingrown toenails over the last week and a half that has disallowed me from wearing any shoes. (I wore a pair for three hours last week, and I paid for it horribly that night.) My toes would not have held up for 26.2 miles anyway!\r\n\r\nI used to get ingrown toenails frequently growing up, but never as throbbing or painful as the ones I have now. I believe this has to do with the fact that, up until a year and a half ago, my toenails were thick and yellow. (My guess: the thicker the shard of nail to dig out, the easier it is to remove.) When I was young, doctors said that nothing could be done about my nails because it was genetic, and so I endured years of embarrassing yellow toenails.\r\n\r\nAs a child, it was hard enough fitting in while being painfully shy, abnormally tiny, and possessing a nose that was far too big for my face. Unfairly, but fittingly, I was given disgusting, embarrassing, crumbly, yellow toenails to mix into my cocktail of ailments. I couldn’t do anything to hide my large, dysfunctional sniffer, and I took the teases in stride. But my toes; those I could control…or so I thought.\r\n\r\nBesides going to the pool and curling my toes inward on my quick paced walk to the water, I was able to cover my unsightly feet with socks and shoes all day long! That is, unless you go to Sports Camp for the summer, and the gymnastics leaders force you to take off your socks even though you beg them not to, and plead with them to get your dad (the one running the gym at the camp) to vouch for you. Adults don’t always listen to kids, and those adults had the final say, so I slowly and reluctantly peeled my socks off my feet. I did my usual toe curl that I used effectively at the pool, but when it came time for tumbling, I just couldn’t perform the proper technique without uncurling my toes. This meant, as I came out of my roll and stood, feet together, hands held high for my “stick,” a mean, pretty girl was able to grab my ankle, hold it with a tight, zombie grip, and announce to the gym, “Oh my god! Look at her toes! Her toenails are yellow! Hurry, come look!” As you can imagine, tears of embarrassment sprang forth, and I wished that the blue felt of the mat covers would open up and smother me away from the gawking girls gathered around my feet. Of course, after the gym leaders were able to pry those girl’s fingers from off my ankle, they allowed me to wear my socks, but the damage was done. My dignity was lost, and I dreaded going to Sports Camp.\r\n\r\nHowever, as most kids do, I grew to accept myself. I even learned how to manage my toenails with a 7-speed electric sander battery operated toenail file and some nail polish. A few years ago, I discovered that modern medicine had advanced, so I made an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor who prescribed me Lamisil tablets. Those pills worked wonders, and currently, most of my toes are cured. However, I believe that as my toenails were growing into their thin, clear, beautiful selves, that they followed the thick, curled path of the old nails, and viciously cut their way into my nail bed like the knife of a surgeon. I’ve since dug them out (with twice the effort and pain as before) and have accepted that I will most likely always have ingrown toenails.\r\n\r\nThis entire story is to say that I’m unusually optimistic about my upcoming natural healing process next week. (I love long tangents, don’t you?) Yellow toenails might not sound like much, but trust me when I say that my body conspires against me, and if not for modern medicine, I’d probably be dead, or abandoned to some colony of misfits. My little platoon of “immunes,” as I like to call them, obviously couldn’t heal the tears in my tendon (even with the aid of stitches–poor little troopers), so I’m eager to witness all of my strongest immunes being clustered together into a battalion of health. Here’s hoping for the comeback of a lifetime!

Hope Relay

There’s a blog relay going on during this Olympic season started by Melanie Crutchfield where she began blogging about hope, and passed the torch to other bloggers who then continued passing that torch of hope, and so on. She will even be conducting a “closing ceremony” with excerpts from this relay. The torch of hope has been dangling in front of me from many fellow bloggers, and I desperately wanted to write on it, but inspiration was failing me. That is, until today.\r\n\r\nThis morning, I woke up from a bad dream. It consisted of me being upset with some sort of thing Greg did or said, but whenever the action was completed, and I began to reason and argue with him, he morphed into my ex, and my past feelings of entrapment and desolation crumpled in around me.\r\n\r\nFor those of you new to my blog, or unfamiliar with the details of my past, I was in a detrimental relationship for 6 years that I finally found the strength to get out of during the early summer of 2009. I told myself that I never wanted to blog in any great detail about my ex, and that he didn’t deserve any mention or acknowledgement, since I’m still recovering from the scars he left. However, with the way he haunts my dreams, I know I will feel better writing not about him, but about my struggles with him, the hope that was lost while with him, and the stronger person I’ve become without him.\r\n\r\nIt’s still too shameful to admit to myself, let alone the public, everything I endured while in that relationship, but suffice it to say that I was verbally and mentally abused, as well as threatened, frightened, and physically harmed. It wouldn’t be fair of me to call him a “beater,” though I bore many a bruise due to his anger and myself being in the wrong place at the wrong time. At one point, I think I was crying out for help by wearing shorts while visiting my family after receiving a softball size bruise on my upper thigh, but when my dad inquired about it, instead of telling him the truth of my ex’s anger, I told him it was just that: a softball getting batted into my leg. For some reason, I kept getting sucked back into that relationship despite my wanting to get out. I knew it wasn’t a good relationship, but I didn’t know how to get out of it, and thus, lost hope that I’d ever truly be happy, and resigned myself to the fate of dealing with him and living unhappily for the rest of my life.\r\n\r\nI sunk into a depression that swallowed me and pulled me into myself. I rarely left the house except for work, and turned down outings with my friends and family. Much of that was due to the dark funk I was in, but just as much of it was out of my distrust of him. Though I never had solid proof of his cheating, I did have proof of his flirting through texts and social networking, and even proof of a dinner date he took with another woman. (He was good at manipulation and lying, but horrible at covering his tracks.) I thought that if I was always home, he wouldn’t be able to follow through on his plans with other women. Constantly being around him, drowning in his negativity, and my creeping depression was slowly killing my spirit, and I was stuck in a vicious cycle where I saw no way out.\r\n\r\nIt wasn’t until our final days, that I overheard him making plans to get away for a weekend with another female. For some reason, even this wasn’t enough to make me want to immediately break up with him. It was when I heard him confidently tell this woman while chuckling, “Don’t even think about telling my girlfriend about our this. Alex(andra) tried that years ago, and it didn’t work.” Which was true, and hurtful to hear out of his own mouth.\r\n\r\nIt’s probably hard to understand my rationale without knowing all of my heartbreaking background, but his evil laugh, and his cocky demeanor, as well as finally getting my solid proof of him sleeping with Alex was the final straw. I had finally found my courage and built up enough anger to exit that relationship. When it was done, there were no more tears. I had never felt so free in my entire life, and as surprising as it was to not cry, it also made sense. For the first time in years, I was truly, and utterly, happy. All at once, my black cloud of depression lifted, and I started to recover my old self.\r\n\r\nI suffered a great deal, but came out stronger. I never understood why women stayed in abusive relationships until I experienced it myself. In hindsight, it’s easy to realize how dumb I was, and tell myself how easy it could have been to get out, but at the time, it was the hardest thing in the world. My hope is that other women (or men) feeling trapped in their abusive relationships will find their strength sooner than later, and that they can find support from others to assist them. For me, it took the love and encouragement from two very special cousins and one irreplaceable best friend. I don’t know that I could have done it alone, and I am eternally grateful to them for not putting me down, but constantly lifting me up and accepting my decisions no matter how harmful they might have been to me.\r\n\r\nIf you are in a relationship that is ultimately damaging your happiness and ruining the person you used to be, my hope is that you look to others to help you find your inner strength. Surround yourself with love, and don’t lose sight of your self-worth. And those of you watching a loved one suffer; I hope that you will be the non-judging stronghold that they will need to pull themselves out.\r\n\r\nAnd now I pass the torch. What is your hope? It can be a hope for you, a hope for a friend, or a hope for humanity. It can be anything you dare to hope for, so hope away!

Hypothermia

“For someone with no sense of taste, you have a lot of opinions on water.”\r\n\r\nKevin told me that a while back, and he’s absolutely right. As you all know, I would rather remain parched than fill up a cup with water. But on those rare occasions that I do partake in the liquid that gives me life, I tend to be picky. I pretty much hate the taste of bottled water, but if I have to grab a bottle to go, I usually choose Arrowhead. Most people that drink bottled water regularly tend to despise Arrowhead, and I think it’s because it tastes like tap water—which I personally like. Tap water is free, as tasty as water can be to me, and is better for the environment than plastic bottles. But don’t think I just turn on the tap and start drinking. No. My other demand for drinking water is that it be ice cold. I’m talking about a minimum of four ice cubes per 8 ounces of water. If it’s warmer than that, it burns my throat.\r\n\r\nThat said, a few months ago, as I was getting out of bed, I pinched a nerve in my back. (I guess this is the sort of stuff that happens when you’re in your 30’s.) In any case, it hurt tremendously, and I could barely move. Internet research said to drink tons of water throughout the day. Fortunately, Greg was home with me, and he gladly filled my reusable purple bottle with large amounts of ice and water.\r\n\r\nIn less than an hour’s time, I had finished 66 ounces of ice-cold water. (FYI: 64 oz is the daily recommendation, so I was feeling very proud of myself.) While finishing my last gulps, I noticed that I was getting cold, but didn’t think much of it. When I got up to smugly show Greg my empty bottle, I began to realize that I was extremely cold. I decided I would quickly use the restroom to pee out the toxins this water was supposedly washing out of me, and then sit myself back down on the couch under a warm blanket. While washing my hands, I noticed that my fingernails were so purple that it almost looked like I was wearing nail polish. That’s when my teeth began chattering uncontrollably…something I thought was only done in cartoons and the movies.\r\n\r\nI suddenly realized that I had given myself hypothermia by drinking water!!\r\n\r\nBut don’t worry; I survived. Greg quickly got me wrapped up in thicker blankets and immediately made me a giant cup of hot tea, which totally defrosted me by the time I finished drinking it. For the rest of that day, I swore off stupid water and stuck with tea–which I found to be an absolutely wonderful alternative.\r\n\r\nWhile I feel I usually have to defend my motives for not drinking water, hypothermia is no joke. I’d say I have a valid reason now. I mean, why would I want to risk my life over something as horrible as water? It’s not worth it when there’s perfectly good orange juice in the fridge.\r\n\r\n 

Anyone Can Whistle

I had fun at my voice lesson today. Those are words I never thought I would say.\r\n\r\nFor those of you who don’t know, I’m taking a beginner’s voice class at my local community college in order to satisfy my last requirement to earn a Music Supplement to my teaching credential. Learning, and trying to master my singing voice never held a shred of interest to me. The thought of taking a voice class seemed absolutely terrifying, so when I discovered that there was no way to get my supplement without it, I made my brother, Kevin, take it with me.\r\n\r\nI left each of the first three class sessions knowing in my heart that I would never come back. I even thanked Kevin for trying with me, but told him I would understand if he wanted out. I just could not see myself actually singing to my classmates at the front of the classroom, not to mention singing solo in the concert hall for three recitals. Nope, there was no way I would do it. That is, until I heard others sing.\r\n\r\nMost of the students in my class could hold a decent tone; but no one was amazing. Some people sang soft or pitchy, and others were just flat out bad. If anything, I knew I wouldn’t be the worst singer in the class.\r\n\r\nA friend I met during my Peace Team adventure back in ‘03 nicknamed me “Horse Whisperer” because while goofing off and singing out of a hymnal book we’d found, she noticed that although I was whispering out my songs, I was actually singing pretty well. I never took her compliment to heart until I entered this class. I started thinking that maybe her words were more than just a friendly opinion, since I knew I could sing better than a handful of the kids in my class.\r\n\r\nThe first day that I bit the bullet and sang in front of my peers, I was shaking so much I thought for sure everyone could hear it in my voice. However, I was told that I sounded good, I got some decent feedback from my teacher, and most importantly, once I was done, I felt relieved because I knew without a doubt that I would be able to handle the rest of the semester.\r\n\r\nThe class sessions have since become enjoyable for me, and I’m learning more about my voice and pushing it to places that I never thought it could go. I’m also finding it easier and easier to sing in front of my class. While the nerves will never dissipate completely, I don’t let them fill me with terror like they used to. I’ve already sung successfully in one recital, and my second recital will be on Monday. After today’s individual voice lesson, I’m feeling confident, prepared, and actually eager to sing. Who would’ve thought?\r\n\r\n 

Mr. Schatz’s Daughter

A week or so before school started, I was asking my youngest cousin how she felt about beginning 6th grade at a middle school. She was so nonchalant about it despite the fact that she had missed orientation, had no idea what classes she would be taking, and knew she’d be changing middle schools this year or next. I marveled at her relaxed demeanor because the summer before I entered junior high as a 7th grader, I was a wreck!\r\n\r\nThe newness and uncertainty of what I would encounter at Fleming Jr. High stressed the shit out of me! Nowadays, they acclimate kids to switching teachers and classrooms. Back then, my classmates and I went from a self-contained K-6 education to being thrown into a three building, multi-storied school with six different periods for each of our classes, all fit between passing periods with tardy bells. Not to mention I would have to learn how to open a locker; which was the scariest part for me.\r\n\r\nI would work myself into a fit of tears over the stress of owning a locker. I was extremely short for my age, so I was concerned I’d be assigned a top locker and not be able to see the combination lock. And oh man was the combination lock a whole other mess in itself! Being the nerd that I am, I was super stressed that I wouldn’t be able to master the complex task of working a combo lock. Thus came Daddy to the rescue!\r\n\r\nMy dad was, and still is, the highly respected Athletic Director for San Pedro High School. Besides bestowing upon my brothers and me the love of sports and athleticism, he also would come home with all sorts of fun sports and school related paraphernalia, and for this tragic time in my life, he brought me home a few combination locks to practice on. After mastering those locks, I felt way more secure about using a locker at school, and a huge chunk of my worries dissipated.\r\n\r\nI don’t remember where my first locker was situated, but I do recall that I was tall enough to see the dial clearly, and with my summer of practice, was able to open it easily. Since I came from Lomita Magnet and qualified for Honors courses, I had elementary school friends in every single one of my classes. And to make everything even better, due to the fortunate proximity of my classrooms, there was plenty of time during the passing periods to get from one class to the next. That is, unless you’re a shy, awkward, scatterbrained nerd, like me.\r\n\r\nAfter giving us newbies a week or so of free passes to being tardy, the school started implementing the Tardy Sweep. If you didn’t make it to class by the time the tardy bell rang, you were required to sit in a detention room all period. Of course, even though I knew I had more than enough time to get to each of my classes, I still felt nervous about this new rule and would pack up quickly, never lingering to chat with friends at the end of class to make sure I was not caught in that sweep.\r\n\r\nOne day after 3rd period English, it took me longer than usual to put the papers away in my notebook and I noticed that my friend Carrie left for 4th period History without me. I was a bit bummed, but understood, since I, myself, got nervous waiting for slow friends to pack up their belongings between periods. I quickly gathered my things and rushed out the door to catch up. I saw her and a few other friends ahead of me, but they were walking in an unfamiliar direction. I figured our teacher must’ve moved class for the day and I missed the announcement the day before. Being shy, awkward, and embarrassed to approach them, I just kept a few paces behind them instead of jumping in and inquiring where they were going. I followed them all the way across the campus right into a class with a teacher I had never seen before, and classmates I didn’t know. That’s when it dawned on me that it wasn’t time for History! My 4th period was Leadership, which was located directly downstairs from my 3rd period room and ALL the way back across campus.\r\n\r\nI quickly bolted from that room and walked as fast as I could to my class (running was against the rules). The tardy bell rang when I was only a few doors away from my class. Despite the bell, I walked in the doorway, pausing to face my teacher who was sitting across the room at her desk, and I explained, “I thought it was a different period and I walked to the wrong class.” To which she replied, “Sorry Erica, but you’re tardy. You need to go to Detention.” Knot in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, I swallowed, blinked away those tears, and began my walk of doom to the detention room. Halfway there, I ran into our Vice Principal who questioned my being out of class. I explained my situation and then he asked me my name.\r\n\r\n“Schatz?” he asked with a sense of familiarity. “Any relation to Bob Schatz at San Pedro?”\r\n\r\n“Yes, he’s my dad,” I meekly answered.\r\n\r\n“I know your father,” he retorted. “Good guy. Come on, I’ll take care of this.”\r\n\r\nThat man accompanied me back to my classroom where, without an explanation, insisted my teacher let me stay in class despite my tardiness. As I took my seat, she shot me a dirty look, as if I went running to tattle on her and got her in trouble. I couldn’t help but smile sheepishly all the while turning a deep crimson.\r\n\r\nAfter those first few weeks of Junior High School, I was comfortable and accustomed to the new routine, and I loved every bit of my time there. I was glad to know being Bob Schatz’s daughter gave me some leverage, but I never had to use it again. Besides having the perks of my dad’s status throughout my school years, he was, and still is, a great father. From something as small and touching as bringing home combination locks, to being a non-judging, unconditionally loving rock of support when I finally found the courage to end a six year abusive relationship a few years ago, he has given me so much of the confidence that I have today. Having Mr. Schatz as my dad may have saved me in Junior High, but him just being my daddy has saved me in life.

Marathon Woes

I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010. Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season. After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether. Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training. I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races.\r\n\r\nI use the word “races” as a term, not literally. I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could. So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon. With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were! When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going. This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program.\r\n\r\nDespite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16. Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged. Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block. We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us!\r\n\r\nThen something happened that I was completely unprepared for. Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants. Yes, you read that right. I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it! I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running. Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in. Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace. While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful. But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.\r\n\r\nMy new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts. And it worked! When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain. Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen! Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell. I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!\r\n\r\nAfter 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced. Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny. We did it! Will I do it again? “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time. However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another. Each time I think of it though, there’s a big question looming in my head: Is it worth urinating on myself again to get a time under 5 hours?\r\n\r\nIt just might be.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n(My brother, Kevin, put together this awesome video of our marathon. Will you be able to spot the pee?)\r\n\r\nhttps://youtu.be/oX10wa6peLc?list=PLB4D41C25BCFA37F0