Friday, May 30, 2014

I've Become an Average Blogger in Just Twelve Months!

Tomorrow is a big day for Flaws, Forgiven.

Tomorrow, the 31st of May, my blog…………………………….turns 1 :) 

I'm pretty pumped. 60 posts in 365 days. Not too shabby!

Now it's only fair on this, the one year anniversary of my blog, that we sit down and judge the crap out of what I've done. I'm serious. If there was ever an OK time to pass judgement, now is that time. When I started my blog I, like most bloggers, had a pretty specific list of goals in mind. I think tonight is the perfect night to revisit those goals and see how well I've stuck to them.

So let's get right into it, shall we?

Write to feel better
Jen Grade: A
I jack things up a lot. I make mistakes when I attempt DIY projects. I make mistakes when I work. I make mistakes in my relationships. Writing acts like a mindmap for me, a visual representation of what I’m thinking, a way of organizing my thoughts into cute, tidy little paths I can skip along in a yellow sundress with flowers in my hair and birds in the blue sky and deer leaping and bounding with me on my way to Resolutionville.

So basically, writing is my #1 problem solving tool.

Solved problems = happy Jen.....but I need to walk myself through the resolution process to feel the full effects. I can't just be all like "oh great, I'll just stop caring about that. Done. Gone. Poof." My mind doesn't work that way. I need to immerse myself in the problem and spew out my thoughts, reactions, feelings. 

Once all the words get out of my system, I know exactly where I stand. I know what needs to be done. I know why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. It’s pretty damn glorious. It’s working well for me. The added bonus? Sometimes my writing makes other people feel better, too. Sometimes walking myself through my problems helps strangers walk through theirs. It’s nice. It’s better than nice….it’s perfect. A++++++, Ralphie!

Write to practice
Jen Grade: D
I started this blog because I wanted to devote a portion of my life to writing. Therapy aside, I write because I enjoy telling stories….so much so, I’ve made it a life goal to write a book. I want to be a writer – a real writer. Someone with pages filled with her imagination and volumes of her deepest, most intimate ideas. Someone who has a weird picture of herself in a flowy skirt on the back cover. Someone who pushes herself to madness to get her book published and into the hands of readers. Someone who breaks through to someone, somewhere, who really needs to read her words. Someone who changes her name to Grace Skymist so nobody knows her true identity. heheheh

I picture my life twenty years from now and I picture myself surrounded by those side tables made out of books, huge white pillows, and blue blankets. I picture a laptop, my legs tucked under me, Aaron’s kisses on my forehead as he heads to bed without me for the fourth night in a row. I picture my mind rushing out onto the page…little ribbons of stories, colorful characters, and an undertone of personal experience. I see it, I can see it right there in my head.

But to get there, I need to practice. I was hoping this blog would help me do just that. I wanted to practice writing well, concisely, professionally. 

I’m not doing so well. Not happenin’. I’ve realized I’m happiest when I’m freewriting….expressing myself with little restraint, little planning, and absolutely no punctuation control. This makes me happy. I can’t say I’m disappointed with myself for suckin' with this goal…my blog has turned into a different kind of resource for me.

And you know, the more I read about writing, the more I’m told the most important part of writing a novel is to simply write. Just write.

So I’ll take that D and treat it just like I did when I got a D in calculus……*shoulder shrug* “Eh.”

Never try to make big money with your blog
Jen Grade: A
I’m going to say this with the least judgment possible because I know a great many wonderful bloggers who love to make money with their blog – I never want to take reader focus off my writing and put it on advertising. I’ve had people approach me to do sponsored posts and I gotta tell ya, it ain’t for me. Everyone loves money, including me, but my posts are mine. I will sometimes write a non-compensated post or two for people who have very real and helpful stories, stories that I think resonate with my readers and fit the tone of my blog...but you will not find me posting about razors or free tickets to Disneyland. I’m not big on selling stuff and honestly, I am kinda turned off by blogs that pitch product after product after product. I want to read, people. I want to read good, funny, heartfelt crap.

This isn’t to say I will never make any money off this blog. I think someday I might get an ad or two in the sidebar… and if someone asks me to review their incredibly awesome (read = not razors) product or book, I'd be all over that....but that’s where the buck stops for me. I don’t want anything interfering with the true purpose behind this blog. Ads and spam just don't jive with the overall feeling of Flaws, Forgiven. I try to avoid them. So far, so good!

Stay positive
Jen Grade C+
This goal doesn’t pertain to the first few paragraphs of every post. My blog is all about disclosing my flaws and figuring out how to love them, so naturally the first few paragraphs can be very negative as I am literally describing my awful, insane flaws. 

No, when I thought up this goal I was referring instead to my natural tendency to whine. I am a HUGE whiner. I could whine all day. Yes, I can do it in a really funny way….but it’s still whining. My post last week was one giant whine fest. I can sometimes have a very sarcastic, dark sense of humor. This interferes with Goal #1. I learn nothing from whining. It can still be fun sometimes, though. Hence the C+ :)

Don’t be scared
Jen Grade: B-
This one is probably the hardest for me. I write purely and completely from the heart. It causes problems sometimes. I get sensitive. Others get sensitive. People have taken offense. Conflict makes me second guess myself. Sometimes I think I should stop. 

Then I smack the shit out of myself and stop being a wussy. This here is my space. I share it with the world, but I don't force it down anyone's throat. I write for whoever wants to read it, hoping someone who feels as crappy as I sometimes do will maybe somehow feel better. 

I'm getting better and better at smacking myself when I feel afraid to be myself. I'm getting there. When it comes to blogging topics, I am caring less about other people and more about myself. I'm at about 80% don't care. Progress!

So there we have it. My top five blogging goals. Now we all know I’m not good with math and crap but that seems like a high-C-ish average to me. Baddah-bing! I'll take it! Heck, no complaints about a high C - that's average-like! That's how it's done!

I’ve learned a ton about my writing style (erratic and wordy), picture-editing capabilities (thanks PicMonkey!), and time management skills (hel-lllllo multitasking). I’ve learned I truly do love writing…very, very much. It isn’t just some random idea I came up with in the shower. I physically get a surge of adrenaline when I see something and think, "Oh MAN I could totally write about that!" Everything is my next blog post. I feel so relaxed after I've written, but also here you go world. Have at it. I honestly cannot explain how I feel when someone walks up to me and says, “I read your blog, Jen. I totally read it.” If I wasn’t such a badass, I would cry all over the place.

All I keep thinking as I celebrate a year of consistently writing is: maybe I can write my dream book one day. Maybe I might actually be able to pull it off. That would be pretty damn awesome.

Until that day comes, I am going to sit back, read some old posts, continue writing new ones, and keep the content stream flowin’ by coming up with ways to forgive myself for my nonstop, insane flaws.

A few of my favorite posts:

As always, thank you for reading. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun and exciting without you, dear readers. Thank you so much for supporting me, reading with me, and sharing your experiences and opinions with me. They mean more to me than you could possibly imagine.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Top Ten Worst Driving Offenses According to Jen

The very fact I got to and from work today, the Friday before Memorial Day, without ramming into anyone is proof there is a God.
Most of you have read my thoughts about my blue collar commute. I sometimes love my drive to work. Yea, it takes 8-10 hours away from my life each week. Yea, I get oil changes every 5-6 weeks. Yea, I spend close to $250 a month on gas. But sometimes it’s nice to sing with the windows down and flirt with truck drivers.
Today was not one of those days. Today was the farthest thing possible from one of those days.
I leave my house every day at 0530. I get into work around 0630, depending on traffic. Lately, I’ve been flying in by 0620 each morning. Those 10 extra minutes mean the world to me – 10 minutes early means 10 minutes less I need to work at the end of the day when all I want is to go outside and frolic in the green grass and blue skies. It means I leave just early enough to miss the train...the train that blocks me at every stoplight throughout my commute. It means I get home 20 minutes earlier. I know. I don't get it either. It just works that way.
Today I left a little early. About 0528. I jumped on the first long road of my route (anyone else break their commute up in sections?) and noticed the traffic seemed a bit thick. And then I looked around….and my eyes did that horror-film thing, like when a main character sees immense destruction, carnage, or leaping fire monsters eating babies.
Boats, trailers, old people in SUVs, gas stations brimming with the one thing that will send tough commuters like me screaming off the road….people on vacation.
I get it. It’s a holiday. I’m pretty pumped about it. We’ve got a huge party planned. It’s gonna be epic!
……but today, I have work to do. Lots of it. Day job, night job, and late-night job. My vacation hasn’t started yet.
So imagine my irritation when I was not only forced to drive amongst the lucky little jerks who didn’t need to work today….but also lost out on my sweet little 10 minutes this morning. Traffic was so bad I was actually in past my normal time….some might’ve considered me……ugh gosh I can hardly type it……some might’ve considered me…..…late.
hate being late. Timeliness is important to me. Maybe it’s the military or maybe it’s the simple fact I feel in control when I have a routine…either way, I do everything I possibly can to never be late.
And I get it, people. Driving isn’t always easy, especially for those who never need to. The oldies who’ve been retired and drive to WalMart once a week. The moms and dads who aren’t accustomed to driving with three kids early in the morning in a van full of camping gear. The younger generation who is dreading another family vacation and is just trying to stay awake. I get it. Navigating the tricky streets of Morningland can be hard. Lord knows I’ve gotten into enough accidents to prove it.
I can actually tell you, minutes before it happens, that we’re about to get into an accident. I actually have “the sight”….kinda like an “accident third eye,” honed from years and years of making mistakes. I don’t want to toot my own horn here (pun absolutely intended), but I’ve turned into a pretty damn good driver….mainly because I literally have made every possible error behind the wheel. My first 3 years of driving were the best drivers ed courses ever. I’ve morphed into a very defensive driver….meaning I look two cars ahead of the one in front of me pretty much constantly. I plan escape routes (thank you anxiety!). I test my car’s limits by driving like a jackass when I’m alone on the road. This is no joke. This is Jen on Driving.
But I also know the rules of the road. And I pay attention. And I care very much about what is going on around me. And I try to be polite. All things today’s vacationers simply didn’t reciprocate. At all. They drove like buttholes. So bad, in fact, that I decided to write a Top Ten Worst Driving Offenses According to Jen list.
10. Lane drifters. Don’t drift into my lane. I am driving here. I am trying to drive without dying…so stay out of my lane. Yes, I’m talking to you, lady who likes to turn around and talk to her kids while she drives. And you, guy who’s trying to stare at the hott chick walking down the road. Eyes front. You’re driving a car and you’re about to hit me. Oh, you want in? Fine. Fine c'mon over. Oh you're slowing down? Oh you're going back into the other lane? *head explodes*

9. Random breaking. You have seventy feet between you and the car in front of you. Not a stoplight in sight. No birds, reindeer, ice, rain, or other natural disturbances. What a perfect time to apply the brakes, right? That way, the car behind you will never get where they’re going and if they do, they’ll arrive with 1/3 the amount of hair they previously had before falling into the terrible, terrible luck otherwise known as following you.
8. Lost lambs. I travel around for work sometimes and can completely relate to getting lost. I’ve had to slow down to read street signs. I’ve had to take some turns real quick. It happens. When you find yourself getting lost, however, pull off and figure it out. Or travel in the right-hand lane. And if you do need to cut me off, make it a one-time thing. Cut me off once, maybe you’re lost. Cut me off twice, you better find a way to get lost before I find out where you’re going and secretly stash a stink bomb under your tire.
7. Pretty princess makeup time. Get your stupid makeup on before you leave the house. Watching you put on mascara in the car makes my eyes water and causes all respect for you to just go flying out the window. I get you’re busy – me too. We’re all busy. That’s why we all deserve a fair shot at getting to work on time without getting stuck behind Miss America 1998.
6. Don’t hit on me. You’re not going to get my number by flying up alongside me and matching my speed. The only thing you’re doing is making me extraordinarily uncomfortable and more likely to die because I’ll undoubtedly try to speed away from you. So thanks for trying to kill me, but no thanks.
5. Smoking. Really makes me feel like Riverdancin’ when someone pulls up next to me and just starts blowing smoke into the air I’m breathing. The best is when they flick ashes or butts and they land on your windshield. So nice! Can you pass the crack pipe, too? Cuz that might just get me high enough to off myself right here and now instead of sitting in your slow-death cloud of doom.
4. Chatterboxes. I am so glad you have your friend with you and you’re driving together and the sun is shining and it’s so fun. You’re obviously having so much fun you’ve forgotten you’re operating a 3,500lb vehicle that’s unfortunately sharing the road with me. I’ve tried giving you some gentle reminders that you’re not alone…slight tailgating, trying to catch your eye in the rearview, the casual “check around” maneuver, all alluding to the fact you’re pissing people off, but no. No, you are way too happy turning your head, talking to your passenger, laughing and dancing to music. Go you. What fun. Shame I’ll have to dampen your spirits by resorting to more aggressive methods of getting where I need to go. Poor little chatterbox. Perhaps my middle finger will give you something a little more interesting to talk about.
3. Epic merge fails. You know those diamond-shaped yellow signs that tell you cars will be merging up ahead? They are essentially telling you to do the right thing and move over if at all possible. Let these poor people in. It's hard enough to crane your head and try and look behind you while looking in front at the same time...why make it harder? In the same vein, let's use some turn signals. You know. To let people know we're exiting and entering. No big deal - they are the only method of communication between our cars. 
2. Cell phone madness. Hey. Hey guy. Think you can stop texting long enough to start moving now that the light is green? Here, how ‘bout a little honk. Oh good, there you go. Movement. Except now you’re moving and texting…which means staggered, frequent episodes of slamming on your breaks and then zooming forward to make up for your inability to focus on the road. That’s ok, though. I’m sure your conversation, or text, or email, or Candy Crush game is way more important than me getting home to my kids. Screw basic human consideration, there’s a draft pick you’ve gotta monitor.
1. Driving in the left-hand lane. This is my number-one biggest pet peeve….ever. Did you know it’s illegal to pass on the right-hand side? Did you know it’s illegal to drive in the left-hand lane? Did you also know you’re generally considered a huge idiot if you drive really slow in the left-hand lane? In a perfect world (you know, the one road-makers intended it to be), the left-hand lane acts only as the passing lane. Anyone and everyone that is not passing should be in the right-hand lane. This is a true story. This is real life. I once had a friend say, “Oh well, if I’m going too slow they can pass me. The right lane is wide open.” I almost opened my door and jumped out. 

So there you have it. The Top Ten Worst Driving Offenses According to Jen
If you do these things, people, please, in the name of all that’s good and holy, stop. Save us all from the misery and heartache that is sharing a road with you. You’re not a bad person, you’re just a bad driver. You can fix it – I did.
*said in the voice of the Genie from Aladdin* ---- It can be taught!
Any of you experiencing travel issues so far this weekend? Anything I missed? Don’t let it damper your fun! It’s going to be a great weekend….once you get off the road and into a lawn chair! Speaking of which....
Happy Memorial Day all and as always, thanks for reading J

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Real-Life Lasik Experience

Didja miss me? I missed you! I was out of the blogging circuit last week because....well.....because I was told to avoid computers. And sunlight. And water. And as I'm sure you guessed from my less-than-creative title, I didn't skip out on you guys last week because I was magically transformed into vampire or flaming phoenix.......nope.

I just had Lasik.

If you're looking for some honest, transparent feedback about the procedure, pricing, and results from a chick who basically just likes to spill her guts online with the hope someone will get even just a smidgen of help or happiness out of it, then this is the post for you!

The Background:
I started needing glasses when I was seven. In high school I transitioned into contacts - I was huge into dancing, and having bouncing, breakable things on my face was not exactly helping my technique. The benefits of contacts continued to haunt me throughout college. Glasses became a huge pain in the butt - wiping them in the rain, wiping them when they fog, wiping them when they fall off and I grab them the wrong way, pretty much just always wiping them. And the whole sunglasses thing. Man was I ever into sunglasses. And then of course my makeup would always get hidden by my glasses. I'm not going to lie to you. I was a vain lil-slutty-two-shoes for a while there.

By the time I joined the Army I hadn't worn glasses in years. Imagine my surprise when they stripped me of my contacts in Basic Training and handed me these huge, thick, brown-framed glasses, otherwise known as BCGs - Birth Control Glasses. I kid you not - they were called BCGs...meaning there was no way anyone would ever possibly get some action while wearing those suckers. Ever. And it was no joke. They were horrific. I remember standing in formation once, after graduating to my Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, secretly wearing my contacts. My drill sergeants knew I hated my BCGs. They knew I continually tried to sneak my contacts into my eyes. I even went as far as just going blind - no glasses, no contacts, no nuthin'. That's how much I hated the bulky, ill-fitting, thick-ass pieces of crap. I stood there one morning, absolutely wearing my contacts, when my drill sergeant came up and asked me where my glasses were. I lied right in his face. "No glasses today, Drill Sargent. Just rockin' the regular ol' eyes today." I remember him glaring at me, moving in closer, telling me to look him in the eye so he could check for contacts. I did my best "open but not open" eye bulge....prolly looked a little like Wile E. Coyote when he gets zapped by something. This drill sergeant had perfect vision, as did most of my drill sergeants, so he luckily had no idea what to look for and couldn't see the huge clear circle around my eye. I like to think the majority of this has to do with me being a Master Fake Eye Bulger. In the rare chance I did get caught with my contacts, they would make me do push ups and flutter kicks for a good 30 minutes.....and I should mention right now, in addition to being a Master Fake Eye Bulger, I am the Worst Push Upper in the nation. Yet I still risked it. I still wore my contacts at every opportunity. This, people, is how much I hated glasses. I vowed once I got out of training I would never, ever wear glasses again. Ever.

And reality check. Around the time I had my first kiddo, my body chemistry literally went to shit. I developed a weird sensitivity to most contacts...meaning they hurt like hell. There was really only one brand I could wear without constantly poking myself in the pupil to shift the contact around in my eye....and this brand cost about $100 a month. Yea. I'm no mathematician, but that's like $1,200 a year. Just for contacts. Not including the solutions. And the cases. And let's consider when I'd open one of these contact packages up and the contact would have some sort of manufacturing/packaging defect and would be all bent up and useless on my uber-sensitive eyes. The cost was getting out of control.

So I asked my optometrist about Lasik <que pharmecuticals commercial haha>. No but really. I trusted my optometrist - he knew how much I was struggling with contacts. He recommended a specific surgeon...explained he'd worked out a referral discount with the guy and trusted this surgeon would take good care of my eyes. After doing a little bit of research on my own, I found out this guy is ranked #1 in the state. Good enough for me!

The Price:
I went in for my consultation. I had a prescription of -3.75 in my left eye and -4.25 in my right. I also had astigmatism in my right eye. Basically the whole right eye just needed to go. I sat through a number of eyeball measuring tests and photos and at the end of the appointment, was asked whether or not I'd like to schedule the surgery. My immediate response was much is this going to cost?

Now I'm sure you've seen those Groupon deals for like $699 an eye, ya? Let me just tell you - this guy was not doing eyes for $699 a piece. PS: Read the fine print at the bottom of those "crazy good" deals. They're often based on old technology and the prescription of the patient. I recently saw a deal where some place offered both eyes for $1k...but only if your prescription was -1.50 or better. Who even needs Lasik with vision like that? Robbers!

I was given a price for IntraLase Lasik, which uses the newest technology to slice, dice, and reshape your cornea. Without the referral it would've cost me $6k. With the referral, my price was knocked down to $4,500 for both eyes. This included the pre-appointment and two post-op appointments with my regular optometrist.

I am not a rich man (said in the voice of Forrest Gump). And I'm also not much of an eye if you got your eyes done cheaper and are in love with the results, go you - no judgments here.

But these were my eyes. The phrase "you get what you pay for" was ringing in my head for weeks. I decided to go through with it. We saved some much-needed-and-allocated-elsewhere tax returns and, with the support of my hubby (who, frankly, was sick of me whining about my eyes every minute for years), we decided on a May surgery date.

The Prep:
I was out of contacts for a week before my surgery. No eye makeup for a few days prior. This was obviously a rough time in my life.

I also needed to bring two prescription eyedrops and a container of over-the-counter, preservative-free eyedrops with me to the surgery. I had an eye recheck two days prior, just to make sure nothing about my eye shape changed or something. Who knows what those weird eye machines really show. Prolly my soul.

So great news! My soul didn't change. I was a compliant patient and stayed out of my contacts. I'd saved the money and was ready to fork it over for better vision *fist pump*. I was go for launch.

The day of the surgery I was required to arrive with a driver. I had my mom stay with the kiddos (thanks mom!) and Aaron and I set off on the hour-long trip to the surgical center. I was freaking out the entire time.

Now I'm no sissy. I was trained to be a 91-W Series Combat Medic for the US Army. We had "desensitizing training." Yea. Just think about that for a minute.

I've also delivered two uber-huge babies (9lbs and almost 11lbs) completely unmedicated. Pain tolerance is kinda my thing.

And one last point in my anti-sissy defense, I really love the whole surgical process. I like talking to clinical staff and breaking them out of their normal, everyday, ho-hum, another-patient-is-here routine. I'm not afraid of drugs, needles, scalpels, you name it. Give it to me.

But for some reason, I. Cannot. Handle. Eyes. I was a mess. These were my eyes. My eyeballs. I've dissected enough eyeballs to know exactly how fast an eye can go from orb of bliss to puddle of squish with just a bit too much pressure.

Yea. Freaking out.

When I arrived, I was disappointed to hear I wasn't on their schedule. What. I had been prepping for over a week! Luckily, the drug nurse (more on her in a second) shifted a few things around and got me in. First. I was first. I was, like, about to go in. Early. Now.

She handed me some Valium. I told her I was very, very nervous. She handed me another Valium. Drug nurse = best person ever.

I had a few more pictures of my eye taken and then I got all prepped up. I'd used a sterilizing gel on my eyelids that morning, but they went over my eyes again with antiseptic and told me I couldn't touch them anymore. They shoved a cute little blue cap on my head and then I waited.

Aaron was with me the whole time, which was great because I was still freaking out (despite how cute I look, I know). The Valium takes a sec to kick in.  The surgeon came and checked my latest pics, said all looked great, and then walked away. A few minutes later I was called into the room by this nice, cute assistant dude. I left Aaron behind and walked on into the room marked "DANGER. DO NOT ENTER. LASER PROCEDURE IN PROGRESS."

The Procedure:
The room was a big table with two machines on each side. In the middle of the table was a brown puppy. This is not the Valium talking. This is real life. I laid down on the table and the nice dude gave me the stuffed puppy to hold onto and covered me with a blanket. Clean eyes, check. Valium kinda working, check. Puppy, check.

Someone taped down my left eye. Hey hey, Bad-Eye-Righty was first! The doctor came over and started moving my head around, aligning my eye with this red light. He told me to look at it. Then he started putting drops into my eyes. Now again, I'm no sissy. I do, however, have a strange tendency to head-jerk when drops of any kind are put in my eye. This was no exception. My head automatically jerked backward, without me even knowing it.

"You must relax, otherwise you will cause problems for both you and me," he said. Ok. Relax. So to avoid the jerking (because he was continuing to put fluids in my eye), I just tried to hold my head very still. I was literally flexing my neck like the hulk. He caught on to my tension when he tried to re-position my head at a better angle and again told me to relax. Sure, guy. I'm all noodles over here.

Eventually he was cool with the amount of fluid, made sure my eye was really numb, and then stuck this huge, and I mean huge, clamp in my eye. I was envisonioning something like the Matrix - little metal fingers pulling my eyelids up. No way. This was like a big plastic ice-cream scoop, surrounding my eyeball and forcing it out of the socket.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't in pain. But holy crap, did I ever feel like my eye was going to pop right out. The pressure was something I'd never felt in my life. So weird. I have a really vivid imagination....and that imagination was on Valium, so....

I got over it quickly - they moved my table over to the machine on my left. The doctor told me I'd lose my sight for a minute but it would come back. Things went black. I heard one of the tech dudes countdown. I felt a smidge of pressure. This is, I'm assuming, when they cut the flap in my eye.

The doctor praised me for doing awesome and moved me over to the machine on the right side of the table. My vision came back. I saw a red light and he told me to stare at it. I tried, really I did. It was hard because the light was blurry - totally not staying where I needed it to. It was like jumping all over. Eventually I was able to lock on and he told me the laser was going to reshape my eye now. I heard a loud-ish noise, like when something metal gets stuck in the roller of a vacuum cleaner.....ditditditditditdit. My right eye needed the laser three times.

Now don't freak out, but because this blog is all about transparency, I have to tell you.

I could smell it. It smelled like burning hair. This was my eye, getting all lasered and reshaped. True story.

After about 2 minutes of laser time, I felt and saw this beautiful paintbrush-like thing on my eye, smoothing clear liquid over it in gentle strokes of bliss. It was awesome. I actually said out loud, "this is my favorite part." I have no idea if they laughed because, well, I was kinda in my own world at that point.

Then they taped Bad-Eye-Righty down and did the same thing to my left. The left only needed the laser twice, I'm assuming because they didn't need to correct any astigmatism.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes - maybe. Prolly closer to 15. It was fast.

I walked out and looked right at this dude who was set to get the procedure next. He looked at me with huge eyes and I just grinned like a drugged-up hoodlum. I was blinking like a crazy person and my eyes were watering all over the place. I was walking straight, but couldn't find Aaron, so I kinda walked one way for a step, then the other way, then back the other way. I remember just being happy I could see. I could actually see this guy's worried face looking right at me.

The Recovery:
The ride home was a living hell. We had an hour drive. The numbing drops wore off right away and me, being the Valium genius I was, really wanted to "use my new eyes." I was trying to look the mid-day sun. It was bright as heck. I kept going between "OHDEARHELL my eyes are burning out of my skull!" to " I CAN SEE THAT SIGN! I CAN SEE THAT SIGN!" Aaron tried to get me home as fast as he could but I was doomed. After about 30 minutes I was trying everything I could to keep the sun out of my eyes. I even tripled down on the sunglasses. Hott Jen, lookout.

By the time I got home I just wanted to sleep. I passed out in my bed for about an hour wearing these sweet goggles they make you rock when you sleep. They are absolutely a turn-on for anyone who likes googly-eyed, sci-fi chicks.

The eyedrops suck, I am not going to lie. The prescription drops are thick, milky, and need to be used three to four times a day. I also use those preservative-free drops every 30 minutes. I have no idea how long I need to do this. My one-week follow up appointment is tomorrow, so we shall see.

My eyes get real gooped up, but I can't rub them. This is perhaps my greatest frustration. I love to rub my eyes. I rubbed the crap out of them before. I would take out my crappy contacts and just rub the crap out of my eyes. It was awesome. I didn't appreciate it enough. For the past week it's felt like I have really, really old contacts in my eyes that I can't get out. The solution? More drops. Did I mention I can taste my eyedrops? Yea. Didn't even realize this was possible until Lasik. PS - they do not taste like cotton candy.

I also loved washing my face. This is also not possible right after Lasik. I can wash my cheeks, but when I try to wash off my forehead, the facewash gets right into my new eyes and I feel like they are just going to fall right out.

The combination of goop and no-wash leaves me with this ultra-hip "white eyeliner" look that just knocks the socks off everyone I see. I mean it's that fresh spring glow all the mags are writing about, ya dig?

I also have a little bruising (read = red blood spots) in my eyes. This has started to fade. I'm a little sad to see the bloodspots go, to be honest. They kinda made me look like a badass.

The Result:
Every day gets better. The discomfort lessens and I need to use the drops less and less. Nothing shocks me more than waking up in the morning.....I look around every day and see everything in HD. Everything is crystal clear - I mean crystal frickin clear. I had a follow-up appointment last Saturday and was told I have 15/20 vision - better than perfect! I have bionic superwoman eyes. I can see a cat crossing the street four blocks down the road. I can see little tree buds blooming. I can see your underwear. Ok maybe not the underwear part but all the other parts are true. It is by far the coolest, most transformative thing I've ever elected to do. Despite the craziness of it all, I am glad I did it. I can see, people. I can finally see.

Have any of you considered Lasik? Any of you gotten it done? What are you worried about? How was your experience with it? Tell me in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)


Friday, May 2, 2014

A Foolio’s Guide to Dealing with Judgment

Man. If there’s one thing I struggle with time and time again, it’s judgment.

I wish like heck I could be the type of person who tosses aside people’s perceptions and opinions...or just punches people in the face.

It’s funny, in some situations, I’m great at this...not the punching part....the ignoring part.

Like that moron driving 25mph in the left-hand lane -  I don't care what he thinks of me when I pass on the right and then aggressively cut back into the left lane (like a boss). I could care less what the crazies at the gym think when I'm busting my butt on the elliptical, jerking all over the place, making the whole machine lift off the ground and then slam back down, causing mini-quakes under my intervals. I don't even care what other shoppers think when I put my kid in time-out in the middle of the grocery store. Don't care, people. Judge away, can't faze

But judge my struggles, ignore my trials and tribulations, or treat my efforts like they are nothing, are meager, are “less” than someone else’s, and I’ll lose it. It’s a surefire way to cut me right to my core. Game, set, match – Jen’s been serial crushed by some huge friggin’ guy.  

The first time I can recall something like this happening to me, I’d just had a baby with a man I didn't really know, a man who was serving his first tour over in Iraq. Military spouses – you will relate to this story – but civilian chicks, you keep reading too. It ends well for all! I wasn't married to the soldier yet and therefore, stayed in my own apartment, my regular civilian life, surrounded by my civilian friends and family. A number of my girlfriends were in relationships at the time, although none had kids or were dating soldiers. I was kinda on my own in that regard.

I remember getting a call one night, a few months into the deployment, from a good friend who’s significant other had to go away for a little while. She was very upset about it, missing him terribly, and decided I was the perfect person to call because she knew I would understand. Except I didn’t. She lost me in the beginning of the conversation, back when she began complaining about her boyfriend being away for a few weeks. All I could think was, how. dare. you. 

It was the first of many, many situations when someone assumed they understood what I was going through – judged my situation completely – without having any idea of what was actually going on. And it slapped me right in the face with stinging, bitter reality.

“How am I going to do this,” I remember thinking. “How can I possibly maintain relationships with people who will never truly understand what I’m going through?”

Some would just say, don’t. Don’t even try. Too much work. Not worth it. Drop 'em. 

That’s just not me. I believe relationships are work. The better the relationship, the more work you’ll find trailing behind it. Yes, there is a line in everyone’s sand, a place of no return, a moment when you realize nothing, absolutely nothing, can make a relationship work and it’s time to say goodbye…….but I've found my lines are a bit more flexible than my young, ignorant self thought they were. Years of storms and crashing waves pushed my lines in the sand much farther out than I ever imagined they would be. 

So banishing people from my life is't really an option for me – more of a “last resort.”

But you know what that means. That means dealing with the judgment.

How, you might ask? Well I am by no means an expert. As I explained earlier, people continue to shock me with their analysis of my life, my choices, and my hardships. It hurts sometimes. I am not immune. I am also not judge-free. I am just as judgmental as everyone else out there. I judge people all the time. We all do. I think it’s an inherent human quality that we actually need…a skill we’re supposed to use when making decisions….like hey, don’t follow that weird-looking man into an alley…or hey, that person doesn't have the same ideals and views as you….or wow, stripes and plaid really don’t go well together.  

So before you read any further, please realize this is the Foolio’s Guide to Dealing with Judgment. This is not a how-to on fixing your own judgmental attitude (I've got nuthin on that topic). This is more of a how-to-avoid-the-hurt that results from getting judged...that's been put together by a sometimes irrational, completely emotional, passionately transparent chick named Jen. Frau Foolio, finding some grace. 

All By Myself
The first (and sometimes hardest) step is to realize you are sometimes going to be alone. The moment you go through a life-changing event others have yet to experience, you are immediately separating yourself from the herd…whether you like it or not. Whether you want to or not. Whether you try to deny it or not. I've said it before and I’ll say it again – until you experience something firsthand, you can never truly understand what it’s like.

No More Kid Gloves
Reevaluate your sensitivity. People don’t think..this is a widely known fact of life. It takes a very special person to predict your reaction or identify your hot spots and avoid them with total accuracy. These people are rare. You’re much more likely to encounter those who don’t consider your feelings when they make jokes or comments. Sensitivity cannot always be controlled, but try. I've worked my way up from uber-crazy sensitive to very sensitive. At one point in time, I really did care what everyone, including strangers, thought of me. Now, I find myself focusing more on those I love and care about. The others are easier to ignore. Kinda.

Rainbows Need Rain
Sometimes even the closest family and friends will disappoint you. I have people in my life who refuse to validate some of the hardest things I've ever gone through. They've made up their minds about me and my hardships and there’s nothing I can do to change how they feel. Ever had someone make a comment that makes you question whether or not they've ever really listened to you? Yea. This is life. You cannot control people, their actions, or their feelings…nor would you want to.

Didja hear me? This is the biggest point I’m going to make: you don’t want to.

You don’t want to change people’s judgments or control their actions, because there’s only one way to really get them to understand. You know what it is, ya?

They've got to experience it.  

Ignorance is Bliss
I would never in a million years wish my hardships on those who've judged me. These are people I care about…why would I want them to deal with military deployments, or colicky babies, or infidelity? Why would I want to put them through terrible things just so I can say, “HA! How does it feel??” No. No way man.

Sure, it sounds like a good idea in the heat of the moment, when someone you love has hurt you. It might be real tempting to wish they could literally be in your shoes and feel what you’re feeling. But when push comes to shove, you don’t want to hurt those you love. Not really. Let them think what they want. They’re ignorant, and because you care for them, you want them to stay that way. I’ll take judgment over putting those I love through the crap that keeps me up at night.

Yes, there are exceptions to this method….like that glory-filled feeling you get when your mom finally tries riding a motorcycle and decides it’s NOT a death-rocket propelling people far into the land of hell. Or when your friends buy houses and start to understand why you love Menards so much. Or when (and this is the motherlode of all gratifying moments) someone actually says to you, “Now I understand. I’m sorry about before.” These situations deserve one heck of a fist-pump. Ha-HA - how do you like me now, suckas!!?

But those other things? Those experiences that bring you to the edge of your world and threatened to toss you out of it? The ones that push you to the ledge and whisper for you to just give up? The moments that are so terrifyingly hard, so lonely, so painful, that you never fully recover – just change?

Those are the moments people are more likely to judge….and those judgments are the ones more likely to harm you.

Oh, I get how hard that must’ve been, I lost my grandma a few years ago…..

Oh, well at least in your situation you didn't have to deal with…

Oh, you have no idea what marriage means until you experience…

Oh, it was so much worse for him because…

Oh, well you won't be healthy until you let it go…

It never fails to topple me. The assumptions hit me like a sack of bricks. Whammo. Jen toast.

My favorite way to recover from those things is to continually say to myself, like a little mantra:

They don’t understand. You don’t want them to.

Let them stay ignorant. Remember you are stronger for surviving not only your hardships, but the judgments that follow. These people can't touch you - that's how high into the realm of understanding your experiences have taken you. Don't be angry with those who can't get on your level.....pity them. My mantra doesn't eliminate the pain, but it refocuses my feelings of betrayal and helps me center myself – the only element of any interaction I can truly control.

What about you, dear readers? What’s your favorite way of dealing with judgment? Anyone ever try a 2x4 before? :) Tell me about it in the comments down below.

As always, thank you so much for reading!