Friday, October 19, 2012

Stressed out ... don't like it

     So I said Sunday evening that my short-term goal is to take stress out of my life, right?
     Don't need it. Don't want it. Too old to worry about so many things. Just want to relax and enjoy the moment.
     Yeah, that'll be easy.
     OK, can't watch Yankees games. Can't watch Cowboys games. I'll follow them on my computer or my phone. The agony of seeing the actual thing, that's stressful.
     Can't watch LSU football games. No, just can't go there. I can handle this. They're just games ... he said. Besides, win or lose, it's just darned interesting. College football beats them all, unless -- as my wife has noted -- you watch five or six games every Saturday.
      Can't watch the Presidential debates. Missed the first one altogether, the one that President Obama also missed, apparently. Did watch the one Tuesday night, and it was ... stressful. I don't like watching these two men talk on top of one another. It's not, well, Presidential, and I want to respect them.
      So count me out for next Monday night. I'm sure all my Facebook friends will fill me in because they're so impartial and so objective.
       My friend and fellow ex-Star-Telegram sports writer Lori Dann had it right when she posted, "It's not the debate I can't stomach tonight. It's Facebook. I will be so glad when this election is over." I didn't only like that post, I LOVED it.
         So, yeah, it's stressful to watch the debates ... and reading Facebook afterward.
         I have found covering high school football games last fall and this one -- something I hadn't done in more than a decade -- that, with teams using no-huddle, hurry-up offenses -- it's tougher than ever. And I'm not getting younger, don't see as well as I used to. Some games last long enough that deadline pressure is tight.
        So Friday nights have been stressful, although I love the games, writing one quick short story for the newspaper and a more detailed one for the S-T web site after I return home.
         Really, I want no more stress than, say, cleaning the cats' litter boxes (two cats, three boxes) every day. That's bad enough.
           But take the non-stress vow, and cut out (or cut down on) some of the games involving the teams I love, and here's what happens next:
          We get the grandsons, ages 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, for five hours Sunday afternoon. Love those little boys; they are bright and active and funny ... a joy. Taking them for that long ... stressful.
          I'm changing diapers, cleaning up messes, trying to rock the little one to sleep, picking up toys ... and Bea is doing the same. But we'll take that stress once every couple of weeks.
          On Monday afternoon, Bea goes to a couple of stores, and when she returns, she comes through the door, looks at me quizzically (gee, that's unusual) and asks, "Did you notice a big black streak on the passenger side of the car?"
          While she was in one of the stores, someone sideswiped our 3-year-old silver Toyota Camry, leaving a huge, mean black streak from near the back bumper to a portion of the front door, plus a long silver scratch and a dented back door.
Stress: a banged-up car
           No notice, no nothing, except the damage. And because we're leaving for Tennessee in the morning, no time to do anything about it now because I'm going to work in a couple of hours.           
          A little bit of stress there. I'm rooting for good insurance coverage to help with the body-shop payment.
          Speaking of work ... I walk into the Star-Telegram ... fourth floor of the newly named Star-Telegram building, and the place is covered with long plastic tubes to suck water out of the carpets, the baseboards are torn up around the floor, and there are 150 small fans going to try to dry the carpets. It is, as a couple of people noted, loud enough that it's like being at an airport where a plane is taking off.
          There are maybe six of us working in sports, and we can't hear each other. The guy in the cubicle next to mine tells the night editor he couldn't hear me ... and, as he noted, I'm loud. 
         And I work my five-hour shift with all that noise. Then two of the stories I'm editing -- the Mavericks' preseason game and the Monday Night Football game (Broncos-Chargers) -- go right down to the deadline ... well, maybe even past deadline a couple of minutes.
           Tubes, fans, noise, deadlines ... it's a lot more stressful than I'm counting on.
           So I've watched the Cowboys find more ways to lose Sunday; the Yankees go into a horrendous offensive slump at the end of the season ... and all these other things out of our control.
           The next two days, it's the drive from Fort Worth to Knoxville. It's 15 hours or so; no easy way to do it. We break it up into two days, split the driving, and we've done it so often, we know the routine. But there's roadwork everywhere, and delays, and stops we have to make. So, yes, it has its stress level, too.
             Here's one great part of the trip, though -- beginning about 50 miles south of Chattanooga and going all the way up through East Tennessee, the fall foliage is spectacular, at its colorful peak right now. It's always breathtaking.
             And at the end of the trip, there's our Rachel, and Russell, and our beautiful, smart, energetic and creative Josie, who turns 5 on Tuesday.
             Some stress has its rewards.
             Life goes on. You deal with it.


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