Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Very First Sports Injury*

*A bit of a misnomer, but I shall elaborate later on in the post.

I am so sorry. Can you guys ever find it in your heart to forgive me? I know it has been 17 days since my last post. (Going on 18 but who's counting?) I would love to say that I have a great reason for it. I would love to be able to get on this site and tell you guys that my life has done a complete 180 and that I have found a wonderful guy and that my life is so full of wonderful things that I hadn't had time to log on and write. Alas, I cannot say any of those things with a clear conscience. I have to come clean and say that the only reason I have not posted is simply because I am lazy. I know I am a horrible person. Just consider, before you start throwing stones, who among you has never procrastinated and left something for later regardless of how important it was for you. Therefore, let that entity, since all humans are guilty of procrastination, who has never been lazy before throw the first stone. Now, with a clear conscience, I shall continue.

Allow me, if you will, to elaborate on the asterisk next to the title of this post. Will this story center around the very first injury I have suffered that is related to sports? No. There are many painful memories in my sports trajectory. Yet, this particular injury that I speak of happened during a voluntary excursion into the terrifying world of sports and differs from the others because I was not involuntarily placed in hazardous situations.

To fully understand the enmity between me and sports, let us take a stroll down memory lane, where sports memories are safely hidden in a back room with a "Caution: Enter at Your Own Risk" sign at the door warning of the emotional pain that lies within. Shall we?

My first memory is from before I can even remember. Thus, it may not qualify as a memory, though I clearly remember my mother telling me the story more than once. Now, I was there, I just don't remember. As the story goes, when I was but a wee lad of about four years of age, my dad was a big baseball fan. He and his friends had a non-professional league team that would play every Sunday. At some point, and I am not sure why, my dad stopped playing in the team, yet continued to attend the games every Sunday. My dad loved taking me to the games since at that time I was his only son and he wanted to do all that father-son bonding kind of thing. To this day I have no idea what kind of field they played in. I don't know if it had bleachers for the spectators to sit at or if it was just an open field and people would just watch from the sides. Whichever it was, there was obviously no barrier to stop a ball from making contact with a four-year-old's head. Yes, that head was my head. To hear my mom tell the story, she was furious. Mexican mothers tend to be a bit overprotective. Just a tad. Not a whole lot. Yet she decreed that I was not to attend any more of those games. My dad, as a red-blooded Mexican male (doesn't that sound weird?), decided to take me to the game the next week without my mom's consent. Now, I am not saying my dad's decision was wrong but, if lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, baseballs do. I can only imagine what my dad had to go through after that. I am pretty sure that he was concerned about my well being, but even more so about what would happen when Medea caught wind of what had happened. Needless to say, I never attended any of those games again. It's a shame though because I cannot remember a single one of those games and to this day I wonder if that was because I was too young or because I was hit on the head with a baseball two weeks in a row.

Thus I was ominously initiated into the world of sports and though I never again had a brush with baseball, my attempts at any other sport did not fare much better. I should have seen the sign early on and stopped all athletic endeavours at an early age. I shall blame brain trauma from the two baseball hits to the head as being responsible for me not learning this lesson a long time ago.

Soccer was the next sport that I tried. After all, I was Mexican and they all seem to be obsessed about it. I didn't dislike it, but I was not good at it either. When you are playing against your brother, who happens to be 4 years younger than you, and he is beating you, it is a clear hint that the sport is not for you. Fortunately, only my ego was hurt and I suffered no physical damage from it.

I must admit that growing up I did kind of play "baseball." I say "kind of" and put "baseball" in quotations because we played in the street with tennis balls and pieces of two-by-fours for bats. Once my dad brought a tennis racket that someone gave him and from then on that became my favorite "bat." We also only had two bases and we had a saying "corralito es out" which meant that if the ball went inside someone's property, it counted as an out. I was never injured from these games, unless you count splinters from our wooden "bats." Obviously these were just childhood games and not a sport and I don't usually count them with my sport stories. I only bring it up because I said earlier that "I never again had a brush with baseball" which, if you read this paragraph carefully, is technically true as what I played as a child cannot be considered baseball.

I was always a smart kid in school. My grades were usually at the top of the class when I was in elementary school. That is, of course, if you don't consider physical education. The one class every other kid aced and looked forward to was the one class that kept me from getting a scholarship for a private middle school in Mexico. I didn't just dislike the class, I hated it. I would dread it and I even went as far as to ask for extra homework in lieu of having to go out and participate in whatever sport or activity they had us doing that week. This brings us to my fourth grade P.E. class. The teacher told me that I had to go out and play that day or I would have to receive a failing grade for that month. The torturous activity of the week was basketball. I resigned myself to my fate, took a deep breath and walked into the court. I tried staying out of the ball's way as much as possible but, as luck would have it, someone eventually threw the ball at me. All I can say at this point is that I tried. It wasn't my fault, however, that my lack of hand-eye coordination led to my hand completely missing the ball while trying to dribble and have my right-hand thumb receive the full impact of the bouncing ball and my hand's downward momentum. I lasted a full five minutes in that game before I had to go sit down with a swollen thumb. We didn't really have a school nurse and it did not look broken so I never did go see a doctor for that. All I know is that for a week I could not use that thumb for it was swollen to twice its normal size and it hurt every time there was any amount of pressure on it. It was thus that I learned my lesson against trying to play basketball.

Unfortunately, it was not the only misfortune I suffered at the mercy of a basketball. Many years later, while a freshman in high school, a basketball smashed my glasses. What really sucked about having my glasses smashed by a basketball was that I was wearing them at the moment it happened. Now, I haven't lied. The times I played basketball after the thumb incident can be counted with the fingers on one hand. However, the glasses incident I will take full responsibility for. By then I knew better than to join the game as I knew basketballs were out to get me. In order to avoid participating in P.E. class I had become accustomed to bringing a book with me to read during that interminable class period. I don't remember what book I was reading that specific day, or if I ever got to finish reading it since I could not read without glasses. What I do remember is where I sat down to enjoy my book. Most people would have the common sense to not sit directly underneath and behind the basket. I am not most people. Someone attempted a basket. They missed the basked and hit nothing but air. He yelled something and I looked up just in time to have the ball hit me in the face and break my glasses. I guess the ball did hit something more than just air, but I really doubt they award points for hitting someone in the face. After all, it's not boxing. I was sent to the nurse's office. Fortunately, the glasses received most of the impact. They were these humongous glasses with very thick lenses and a horrendous frame that even Urkel would have refused to wear. I guess the ball did me a favor by breaking them as I got some better ones after that, but for some reason I still do not look back fondly and am not filled with warm feelings when I think about what happened.

Shortly after the glasses incident I decided that I should try a sport that was less intense. I talked to my coach in school and started learning how to play golf. Now, it is really hard to get injured while practicing golf. The proof lies in the fact that golf was another one of the sports in which I did not suffer a physical injury. Then again, I only practiced it a grand total of five times. As we were walking back to the school building at the end of my fifth practice, during which I would have an individual session with the coach as he showed me how to hit the ball, the coach put his hands on my shoulder and said the following words: "You should probably just quit trying to learn the game. You are obviously never going to be able to get it." As I said, I walked away from golf without a physical injury. However, it did hurt. I had confirmation at last that me and sports were not a good match.

All this brings me to the real reason I started this post. A week ago I injured myself playing sports once again.

As you all know, I have been trying to be more active and be more adventurous. Therefore, when some friends asked me to join a softball team, despite my better judgment, I said yes. I proudly became one of the members of the "Sons of Pitches." Last Sunday was our first practice. I didn't really know what that entailed. When I left my house that day to go to practice, I made sure my cell phone had enough battery because for some reason I imagined myself just sitting at a bench enjoying the breeze and texting a whole bunch of friends. Although I had been advised that I would need a glove to play in the team, I did not realize that I would also need one for the practice. To reiterate, the only thing I grabbed when I walked out of my house was my cell phone. Imagine my surprise when I get there and people are expecting me to play catch. They wanted me to play catch! I don't throw. I had not thrown a ball in ages. Furthermore, I did not have a glove. This was turning out to not be the texting bonanza I had envisioned. They kept telling me how to throw and expecting me to do it. Not only that, but they expected me to do it in front of other people. Someone lent me a glove and I finally resigned myself to the idea that I had to do it. I just swallowed hard, buried my embarrassment at having people watch me throw deep inside of me and just did it.

I had just gotten over the shock of having to play catch when they decided to try hitting what they called "fly balls." Apparently, someone was gonna start hitting balls and people had to stand out in the field and catch them. I managed to avoid doing that for the first few minutes but then I was sent in and was, once again, expected to do something that is not entirely within my comfort zone. First of all, I can't catch. Second of all, I have never in my life used a glove and thus cannot catch with a glove. Third of all, when I see a ball flying towards me, instinct and life have taught me to run away from it and to try and avoid any contact. How am I then supposed to meet this ball that is rushing towards me with all its pain inflicting power head on? Throwing, I was told, seemed to come naturally for me. At least that is what my very supportive friends kept telling me. No such compliments were received regarding my catching. I was only too glad to be done with that part of the practice and move on to the next.

For the last part of practice, we actually manned the positions on the field and pretended we were in a game. Every few minutes or so we would rotate so that everyone could play every position. For most of the positions nothing happened so I did not mind them. The positions I did not like though were Short Stop, and First. While in Short Stop, I had a ball head directly towards me at which point I moved out of the way and let outfield know the ball was coming by pointing at it and saying "there it goes." While at First, people kept throwing the ball at me which was usually followed by me not being able to catch the ball and then having to run (walk?) after it. Then, my turn at bat came up. Oh my god!!!!!! Apparently there is a certain way that you have to stand and it looks weird and people are watching. It was so embarrassing. You have by now noticed I have confidence issues. My confidence, however, was strengthened a little when I managed to hit the ball almost every time I took a swing. Although the ball did not fly high, it would actually make it to the out field so that felt kind of good.

It was that one time that I swung the bat and did not hit it though that reminded me I should not play sports. I felt something in my left arm stretch as I swung and hit nothing but air. It was not till later though that I realized I could not raise my left arm without it hurting. Yes, I had injured myself and this time it was at a sport that I willingly chose to participate in. For some reason, this injury did not carry the bitterness and anger of the previous ones. I did not resent having injured myself. In fact, I was kind of proud of it. I knew then that I would have to write about it and that the title would be "My Very First Sports Injury." Again, not because I had not been injured before, but because it was the first injury that did not deter me from pursuing a sport as I do not plan on quiting the team. First of all, because the "Sons of Pitches" is an awesome name. Second, because the team is composed of some wonderful people that don't mind that I can't play the game at all. Third, because the number on my shirt may get to be Pi, 3.1416, as long as the rules allow it. Fourth, because getting injured is not such a bad thing when you choose to play the game on your own instead of being forced to do so.

I am not quitting the team so you all can look forward to hearing more of my sports misadventures as I know there will be many more. Yet, for some reason, I don't dread them anymore. It is funny that I was first injured in a game of baseball and my last injury was in a softball practice. Although they are not the same game, they are pretty closely related and, in a way, I feel like I have come full circle and finally reached some closure.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Amendment

To those that are wondering from my last post, I still have not received my clipboard back. To make matters worse, I have already lost two pens since Friday. I guess I am too nice for my own good. People, man! They just bring you down, turn you into a monster and then call you one. Still, I am holding out hope that I will see my clipboard back. Oh, where is my clipboard?

Moving on, if you have read my last blog, in addition to being up to date on the clipboard situation, you also know I spent last weekend helping a friend move. Now, I live my life by a set of rules. Some are inane ones like I have to eat the fortune cookie before I read the fortune. Don't look at me like I am weird. I am not the only one who does that... I think. Anyway, some rules I have set just to protect myself and my right to be lazy. One such rule is "I will never help anyone move, regardless of whether they are my friends or not." I have worked hard to uphold this rule. I have gone as far as to introduce myself by saying, "Hi, my name is Carlos and I will never ever help you move regardless of whether or not we become friends." Yes, this sounds funny and insincere. It usually works as a really good icebreaker too. Unfortunately, people rarely believe me and later on the road, once we are friends and they are moving, they ask if I am willing to help them move. To this I reply by simply saying, "Do you remember what I said when I first met you?" They often don't and I am only too glad to remind them. They always say that they thought I was kidding. And I always tell them that I wasn't and that regardless of how good friends we are, I hate moving and will not help them.

Heartless? Callous? Mean? Maybe. But the important thing to remember is that this makes me happy. I don't have to lift heavy boxes and move furniture or make a million trips up and down stairs hauling someone else's stuff and being paid with nothing but some fast food and a soda. I am sorry but gratitude is not enough payment for all that hard work. I like having people feel like they owe me, but they will never be able to pay me back if I help them move. I think by now I have made it clear that I hate, loathe, despise and abhor moving.

This brings me to the first amendment in my book of rules. It goes like this: "I will never help you move. This applies to all my friends and acquaintances." There is however one exception. "If your name is followed by the title of "friend" and this title has the modifier "best" in front of it, then, and only then, will I help you move. Only one person shall have the modifier "best" in front of the "friend" title at any point in time. Offer not valid with any other promotions. I reserve the right to change the terms of this exception at any point in time with or without further notice."

This is actually the first time I put this exception in writing. I only noticed it myself this past weekend. Looking back, this exception has applied since the establishing of the rule. I helped my previous best friend move twice. Once, it was even to a city 200 miles away. Now, I have helped my new best friend move. Yes, I carried boxes and moved furniture and even used tools. What did I get out of it? Well, we ate pizza and had a few drinks. But as with a lot of things in life, it is not what you are doing but who you are doing it with that matters. I guess I am a better friend than I care to admit. There is really not much I would not do for my friends. But let's keep that our little secret.

Oh, and by the way, to all of my readers, old and new, known and unknown, regardless of whether or not we ever become friends, I will never, EVER help you move.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

No More Mr. Nice Guy

So this is my first attempt at writing a blog that will be posted later. At this precise moment it is 5:28 pm on Saturday, May 01, 2010. I am in Euless helping my best friend move. Unfortunately, since she is just now moving, she does not have internet access. I bet it will be fun trying to copy and paste this onto Blogger since I have not as of yet figured out how to do that. I bet there is a simple way of doing it but I still haven’t found it yet. Give me time. Have some faith in me and I will figure it out. Also, if you have any hints and tips, they are more than welcome. It is not that I am the least computer literate man in the whole wide world but I have no idea how to write html. Still, if you are reading this right now, it means that I somehow managed to transcribe this post onto Blogger. Or, that after hours and hours of trying, I finally gave up and re-typed the whole thing. Luckily, I don’t expect this post to be as long as my last one so, even if I have to re-type it, it won’t be that much work. There is nothing wrong with work but I am lazy first and foremost and, though I know I have an obligation to you guys, I have been lazy for far longer than I have been a blogger, so my loyalty lies with laziness.

Anyway, I work at a front desk where I have my own sign-in sheet and everything. A sign-in sheet that requires its very own pen so that people can write their own names when coming into the office. Unfortunately, said pen is hard to keep at the desk. It often finds a way to disappear from the desk. I have lost so many pens that I have had to resort to getting nothing but cheap pens in an effort to dissuade people from taking them, but that approach has proved unsuccessful. People continue to take my pens regardless of how value-less they are. To make matters worse, I have seen people take the pens. Unfortunately, I am not assertive enough to stop the thieves in their tracks and reclaim the pens. Thus I quietly watch my pens as they depart never to be seen again.

Thursday, though, something changed.

About fifteen minutes before we closed, a lady walked into the building. She needed to fill out some paperwork. I handed her a clipboard and a pen so that she would be able to have a sit while I attended some other people that had walked in. A few minutes later, someone else walked in and, as I was helping this new person, the lady returned her paperwork to me and left. Once I closed the door after the last client, I returned to my desk to straighten everything out before I left. That’s when I noticed that the pen I had lent the lady was not there. Not only that but I was missing a clipboard. I would have been really upset, but it was time to go home and I try to leave work at work. I went home for the day and did not let it bother me.

Friday morning rolls around and when I get to my desk, I noticed the empty space where the clipboard usually sits. Since I was now on the clock, I resumed my indignation. I thought about it long and hard and decided to look up the form the lady turned in and see if there was a phone number. There was. After lengthy consideration, I called the number and left this really nice and polite message:

“Hi, my name is Carlos and I am calling from the [place where I work]. Sorry to bother you but I realized this morning that I don’t know where the clipboard you used yesterday is. If you can give me a call back and let me know if you remember where you left it, I would greatly appreciate it. I don’t see it anywhere and I don’t want to just leave it lying around anywhere. Our number is (###) ###-####. Thank you for your time.”

I realize the message is a bit petty. I was careful though not to sound rude or to accuse her of taking it, as I did not want to offend her… much. I was not gonna take it lying down anymore. I was going to try to get it back, or at least let them know it is not acceptable to take things just because. I have lost many pens, but a clipboard was taking it too far. Thirty minutes after I left the message I got a call from that lady. She said that she apologized, but that she had mistakenly taken the clipboard with her and had not realized it until she was half way home and, since she lived thirty minutes away and she knew we’d be closed, she did not turn back to return it. Still maintaining a sense of decorum I said that I had asked just because I wanted to make sure that I had not just misplaced the clipboard. She said that she would try to bring it back next time she came to town. I said that I would appreciate it greatly.

Needless to say, she learned not to mess with me. She also said that my message had made her laugh which might mean that she still did not take me seriously but I have become a force to be reckoned with. I will not let people walk all over me anymore. Granted, I still haven’t got my clipboard back and I am unsure of whether I will. But I stood up for myself. Later on Friday, I was actually bold enough to ask someone to give me my pen back when she was leaving. It’s a brand new me. Pretty much like the old me, but more assertive. I shall keep you posted on the clipboard situation, meaning whether or not I ever get it back.
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So What if I am not Typical? I'm Still Fun. by Not Typical, Yet Fun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.