It’s been snowing all day, and I’m annoyed. I haven’t had to drive anywhere; I haven’t even had to walk anywhere. But in this day and age of technology, gaming and not doing anything that might cause one to break a fingernail, many are slow to pick up a shovel and a bag of salt to clear sidewalks in anything remotely akin to a reasonable amount of time. I’ve also noticed, in more than twenty-five years of living below the Mason Dixon Line (after growing up in often-snowy New England), that city officials don’t ever seem to prepare well for winter. They usually have far more important things than snow plows and the personnel to run them on which to spend tax dollars. Bottom line: I’d be shocked if my children have school tomorrow. And I want them to have school Monday. I want it rather badly. That’s why I’m annoyed.
Is it really a big deal if my 12-year-old daughter, Ava, and my 16-year-old son, Aaron, bum around the house a couple of weeks before winter break, get in one another’s way and thoroughly erase the weekend’s housework in a matter of hours? Of course not. But our kung fu school is closed anytime that weather closes the city schools. And that is a very, very big deal!
I need my Monday training. I need it more than any other day’s, because with the school closed on Sundays, the longest gap in training time is between the end of class in the one o’clock hour on Saturday and warming up in the five o’clock hour on Monday evening. Think pack-a-day smoker going fifty-two forced hours without a cigarette. Not pretty, believe me. I used to smoke.
I gave myself a bizarre bruise of busted capillaries on the side of my index finger Saturday with an awkward – and obviously incorrect – slam of the staff against the floor. Gotta fix that. The slam, that is; not the finger. The finger will have to take care of itself.
Getting a long staff back in my hands is the reason I look forward to Monday – that and helping teach the beginner class. Getting up pre-dawn for an hour-long commute to work, after getting a couple of extra hours of sleep for two days over the weekend, makes me otherwise loathe Mondays. Kung fu saves the day – literally. Only a late train home and an exceptionally clogged drive from the station to the school can make me walk through the door unhappy on a Monday. Such a far cry from how I walked in the door the very first time back in 2008. Then, I walked in angry and uncomfortable, though I didn’t know it at the time.
I’d moved up the highway with my family just before the housing market implosion. My adolescent son, who was significantly less than thrilled to be leaving his hometown of D.C., had already entered the phase of life in which everything parental was bad, stupid, irritating or meaningless. So between being unhappy about moving to Baltimore and just being a tween, he could generate hostility merely by walking into the room. Going to kung fu required sharing a seven mile car ride with my bundle of joy. So it was easy to be tense by the time I got there.
I can’t put it all on Aaron, though. I still had the job in D.C., and the first year in Baltimore, I drove to work every day. I was probably more wound up from my commute than I realized back then. I mean, by the time seven or eight months had passed, it was clear as day that I was going to kill somebody if I didn’t conquer the commute.
I also wasn’t all that happy at the job I was commuting to. I’d changed departments around the same time we started going to kung fu – a change I’d requested, but I wasn’t doing very well at the new gig. It was a job that had more to do with putting correct information into a database in the right way at the right time than anything else. I had too much ADD and too little enthusiasm for data entry to do it well.
I was a television news producer. I researched political, legislative, executive topics of the day, found the right guest to discuss it, found the right graphics and pictures and video to enhance the story, formulated the right questions and put it all on the air in the hands of the host. Going from that to primarily data entry made me want a new employer all together.
And, there was losing mom. I probably should have mentioned that first. That’s called burying the lead.
We moved to Baltimore one year and three weeks after she died. We started taking kung fu classes two weeks after what would have been her sixty-sixth birthday. In fact, we’d started tae kwon do in D.C. right around the time she told me that the cancer was back. Two years – and for me, two knee operations due to tae kwon do injuries – later, she was gone. And I certainly wasn’t over it a lousy year later, if one ever is.
So that was the general picture of my life when I returned to martial arts after being sidelined for a year by injuries, the death of my mother, relocation to a new city, and a requested reassignment at work that wasn’t going so well. Yeah. I was definitely angry and uncomfortable in the early days of kung fu. Now, I howl at Mother Nature to let up already on the snow and ice so I can go train!
Quite the transformation it’s been. Let me count the ways….