Sunday, July 3, 2016

"I did it, Babe"

July 2nd, 2015
It was a perfect day on the lake. The house smelled of fish. Not the bad kind that makes you question when the trash was last taken out, but the good kind…the kind, that indicates the 15 lobsters boiling on the stove are almost done. Laughter from the dock lingered in through the crack in the sliding glass door, and the cheer coming from the opened window revealing the end to the beer pong game. Like I said, it was the perfect day on the lake.

I have grown accustomed to enjoying my summers on Sebago lake with my family without Josh. Baseball season tends to encompass many outdoor activities; like boating season, wedding season, and most definitely lake season. So even as I sipped my skinny girl margarita from my sailboat plastic cup, I checked the MiLB app on my phone, awaiting the beginning of the RiverCats baseball game. I smirked, realizing that being three hours ahead, the game was still about 2 hours in the making. He had been called up to AAA about 9 days ago, and the entire move was exciting, however also transported me back to a conversation we had three months prior.

It was the very end of March and he had just been issued another plane ticket to Richmond. Disappointed, dejected and down on himself he finished putting his toiletries into his bag and quietly said, “If nothing positive happens this year in my career, I am going to retire in September.” Shocked, yet personally relieved that perhaps it was time to start looking at life after baseball, I looked up and said, “Whatever you want, it’s your call.”

I knew he was done with the injuries, the surgeries, the expense paid trips to the disabled list. He was exhausted; and if it wasn’t for the look on his face when I saw him, it was the tone in his voice when I spoke with him. There is one thing being away from your husband and missing him tirelessly, however it is another thing to be away from him when he is miserable, and there is nothing you can do to fix, change or alter that mentality.

So, when he called me saying that he was heading to AAA, I secretly wondered if that was enough for him. Would that change the pace of our conversation in April, would this be enough to make him work through one more season?

I sauntered into the kitchen, hoping that my nose could indicate when dinner would be ready. And almost as if my mother was reading my mind, she called the family to the old, wooden table. It was an unusually late dinner. We had been drinking and boating and sunning all day, and by the time we started to get dinner ready it was already past 8. So as the seven of us took our seats at the table, melted butter in sight and bibs tightly tied behind our necks;  our lobster feast commenced. Towards the end of the meal, sun-wiped faces beginning to quiet, wine bottles beginning to empty, it was odd to hear my phone ringing. Everyone who would be calling was sitting at the table with me, and the other, was 15 minutes away from his 7:05pm game time in California. As I dabbed my fingers on the bottoms of my running shorts and looked at my screen I stated, with a hint of panic in my tone “Hmmm, I wonder why he is calling me so close to game time?” My brother, full of both fish and Boston Lager, elbowed my sister and said “Maybe he got called up.”

The next 60 seconds are hard to remember.

I stopped talking, (Maybe even stopped breathing at a point) as I felt the tears dribble down my sun-burned face.  I remember my family cheering and screaming, not because I could hear them but because I looked around and saw their bodies reacting to the happy news. It was with such joy, such glee, such terror, as I listened to Josh on the other end of my cell phone. My fingers still smelling of crustacean and butter, as my husband happily reported, “ I did it, babe.”

***365 days later. 75 MLB appearances. 53 innings pitched. 44 strikeouts. Many triumphs, some mistakes too, and here we are on Americas’ weekend, raising our glasses to you. There is still hardly a day where I am not completely in awe of everything you have accomplished ***

(It is also safe to report that quitting has completely been taken off the table)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

For six straight years, people have been asking me the same question:
“Why don’t you travel with Josh during the season?”
When he was in the minors, the explanation was easy: He gets paid $2 an hour. The End.
However, since he’s been called up and finances have been…well…different, its been hard to answer this same question. Why DON’T I travel?!

Its true: For our baseball life we have followed one schedule. Josh is home. Josh Is Gone. Every April we say goodbye, every October we say Hello, with very little time in between. I love him. I miss him when he’s gone…but I love me too. I love that right when he leaves, I change gears into this super woman; who works full time, takes the dog out five times a day, manages the house, the bills, cleans, cooks, is a full time student, sees my friends, watches 30 hours of baseball week, schedules and plans for two, drinks wine, reads for fun, and most importantly, supports my husband. I can support him from afar, I always have. 

I hated that people just assumed because of our status change that all of a sudden my dreams and goals had to be redirected. It made me crazy that sometimes people asked, with such condescendence like, "Why are YOU still working?" Like, how DARE I work when I don't have too.  What I hated most though, was how angry I got when this question was constantly peppered at me. Almost like there was, this twinge of guilt for not being what everyone else expected me to be. The fury that rose in my stomach that was half, “I am not his slave,” yet “Am I a horrible wife?”

And then I remembered something key. Something so pivotal that it eased the regurgitating, grumbling in my stomach:
                  E   v   e  r   y   o  n  e      is   different.

Some couples NEED to spend their time together. Josh and I have never been this couple...even when we try. I'll admit it, without ANY remorse; we don't have that much to talk about. He's my best friend, but we just don't thrive off of communicating all day. We thrive off of knowing that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And time away now, is not time away forever. We can put our goals over each other, because we know in the end we would resent one another if we didn't. Pitching is one of the most mental skills in the world; its not my job to be in his head when his next pitch should be.

So it has to be said, that when turning in my resignation form to the principal of my school, I felt like I handed over my soul. As I slowly packed up the first five years of my career into boxes I am asking myself, did I make the right decision? Am I giving up my individuality, my independence, by making this journey to the Bay? Won’t I miss it too much? Am I conforming to what everyone else wanted? Will I ever forgive myself?

  • I’ll miss my students screwing up my last name like Kruk and Kuip do on TV. (Not as funny when you’re 11, and you curse at your teacher)
  • I’ll miss rummaging through my purse searching for chap stick, and finding a glue stick instead.
  • I’ll miss the kids, who ever so often call me Mom. Dad. Grandma.
  • I’ll miss coffee stains on my pants before the day has started.

That one job I have complained about for years…will, suprisingly, be missed.

It takes a conversation with my mother to snap me back into the reality driven cloud that surrounds my head. “Jess…you’re a full-time Doctoral Candidate with three more years of schooling, you just applied for summer courses at Stanford to pursue writing a book…what, for one second, makes you think you’re NOT still an individual fulfilling your dreams too?”

                        Dammit, Mom. #YouNailedIt

Get ready 94158; you need to make room for one more Osich.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Lesson from Teaching

It was when I saw the pencil soar through my peripheral vision for the second time, that I casually excused myself from the sweet young lady in front of me who asked for some extra help with her fractions, and walked over to his desk. As he saw me saunter over, he put his head down to his piece of paper like nothing had happened, acting as if he had been thoroughly and diligently working on his activity the entire time without issue. I kindly squatted next to his desk and gently mentioned that pencils are a gift, and if I see one take flight across the classroom again, then I will take all pencils away and whatever classwork you do not complete today because of that, will become homework. He smirked, as if I was joking or possibly doing him a favor and I went back to the table to continue my discussion on common denominators.

United Pencil Flight #3 takes off again….

The fuming, ugly teacher inside of me wants to come reaching out and shake this particular cherub as I stormed across the classroom and asked him to join me outside in the hallway for a chat that the rest of class did not need to be witness too. (If any of you are teachers, or parents, or spend any time with children AT ALL, you will completely understand what will happen next)

Once our conversation was over, and I removed every last pencil from the kids’ desk, I turned my back to address the raised hands scattered across the classroom. It was the thunderous roar of desk dumping that caught my attention next. The young student had decided that, since pencils were taken out of his desk, that he would tip his desk over and completely dump the remaining contents and his belongings onto the floor.


My mind is going nuts! New Plan, Jessie…Come on now. Rack that brain full of Love & logic teachings and solve the problem.
Reward.  Choice.   Positivity.   Motivational Consequences…

It was clear. I needed to stop coming down on him for every thing he was doing wrong, and started pinpointing the moments of when he was doing things correctly.

Now only to find THAT….

Thank goodness the day after he was sitting quietly at his desk, rearranging geometric pentaminos to make perfect squares, just as I had asked him to do. I walked over, and stuck a post-it note to the top of his desk.

I love it when you work hard
And follow all of the instructions!
I am proud of you
-Mrs. O

Although he is not 11, and does not have a problem throwing pencils, baseball players are fairly similar to this. Positive encouragement goes a long way to any human who is not feeling or acting their best.

Every two weeks or so, I copy all of my favorite Tweets/Messages that I read on social media and send them to Josh. They serve as a smile, a laugh at times, but mainly they serve as gentle reminder that even when things get rough, there are so many people who are behind you, and proud of you, and will, just as a true fan would, cheer for you, even on your worst days.

It's important. Social media can be the very worst thing in the world…however it can also be the greatest gift.

See if your post made it this week!

At the end of the day, it is not as if I have found the cure for all poor behavior in the world; I 100% have not. My pencil thrower still chucks Dixon Ticonderoga's across the room, and mean things are said about my favorite guys everyday, but thats life. Perhaps if we all choose to look at the happiness in everything, that is exactly what we will contagiously spread around for all to catch.