Monthly Archives: June 2014

More Drugs!

Question:  What does an addict do on vacation?  Answer:  More drugs!!

And so it was that I tacked an extra hour today onto my normal training time, once I found an empty hotel banquet room with high enough ceilings to accommodate my staff.

The timing on The Walk is making me crazy.  So of course I keep taping myself to see if I’m getting it right, which I’m not. The failure compels me to keep trying… and taping.  What’s an addict do on vacation again?  Witness a few seconds of my madness.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the International Speedway, there’s a world dedicated to flight welcoming dozens of math and science whizzes – all of them girls this week (though several brothers came with parents for pick-up).

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Just driving through campus for drop-off and pick up made me want to get another degree.  Some shots of the sculptures and views, indoor and out:

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Tomorrow, off to old stomping grounds at day’s end.  Maybe I’ll have gotten The Walk by then.

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Cookies and Curses

It finally happened.  My family and my clothes arrived at a destination on time, but my long staff did not.  It makes sense that it would happen in Orlando.  As good at their game as Southwest is, they still have no control over how long it takes TSA to inspect a plethora of oversized baggage coming into one of the tourist meccas of the country.

I’m deducing that that’s why my staff didn’t come in on my flight.  But it also didn’t come in on the next flight from Baltimore.  I know because I was still in the airport when the next flight arrived.  I was told to get out of line at the lost baggage office and go look for it in the next drop of Baltimore luggage.  So I had to spend another half hour in the airport when it didn’t come on the second flight, and I still needed to report it.

The night felt ungodly at times.  It included: landing in a thunderstorm with my stomach in my throat; temporarily losing my beloved staff (it arrived this morning); experiencing one of the longest car rental processes ever; having the GPS on my phone insist that my motel was thirty-two minutes away when I knew it should be less than ten; having the front desk man be nowhere near the office and having to track him down by website and phone in order to check in; and, finally, having a cut-rate bar as the only open source of food at midnight that didn’t come in a cellophane bag.

What saved the night and my sanity was an adolescent daughter who’s as impatient and demanding as I am – only she doesn’t have the necessary filter we adults all know we’re supposed to act like we have.  At one point in the airport, after the second flight didn’t deliver my staff, she looked at my dejected face and just silently reached out and bear hugged me.  I thanked her and told her she was being great, even though I knew she was hungry.  With a grin and in a why-are-you-surprised tone of voice, she said, “That’s because you gave me cookies.”  Bringing cookies for the flight may have been my smartest decision in a long time.

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Later in the rental car, sitting in darkness by the side of a highway ramp trying to figure out what was wrong with my GPS, the hungry girl I would have expected to finally be flipping out through no fault of her own just looked out the window and said: “It’s like we’re cursed or something.”  Her delivery was priceless.  I had to laugh.  And with tension relieved by laughter, I cleared out the address, re-entered it for the third time, and for reasons only God understands, it finally gave me a route that was seven minutes away, not thirty-two.

It was remarkable.  I remembered the cookies, but she remembered that sometimes I need her, too – to do the best she can not to add to a problem.  She remembered, and she came through.  What a blessing on a cursed night of travel.


The Thing That’s Calling

I’ve heard that doing something daily for three straight weeks (or not doing it, as the case may be) can make that behavior a permanent part of one’s life.  Practicing kung fu at least four times a week has been a permanent behavior of mine since autumn of 2011, when I began training for black sash.  That was bumped up to five times weekly once I was invited to Friday night class, and it quickly became clear that it wasn’t an invitation I was free to decline if I wanted to be promoted.

Then, I began teaching.  That was a Monday, Wednesday, Saturday schedule of classes, while my family was taking class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Throw in Friday class, and suddenly, I was doing kung fu at least six days a week.  The teaching days and Fridays in the guan have been replaced by training at the gym, since the big fallout with Sifu; so my kung fu week has remained six days long.  There have even been a few weeks where there was no day off, and I trained eight or nine days straight.

Now, you would think my body would be thrilled with a day’s rest – and it probably is.  My brain, on the other hand, doesn’t know what to make of it.  My night off always feels a little weird.  Tonight, the weirdness itself is weird!

I have grocery shopping to do, packing to finish and a little quality time to spend with my spouse before I’m gone for a week.  And still, I’ve spent far too much brain power today trying to figure out if there’s any way I can get it all done and still make an appearance at the Friday class that I’m permitted to return to, now that the calendar reads June.

The art really is the thing that’s calling – particularly in a week where I learned new ways of doing old techniques.  It’s not some grand re-entrance to the fold or some masochistic need to overdo it (Friday class is always an abuse of the body that’s supposed to make us stronger).  It takes three weeks to make a habit, but I’m fairly certain it would take closer to three months to break my habit of wanting to practice daily.

I’m guessing on this timeframe, of course.  And I’m guessing without any intention of testing it! 🙂


The Now

Next week I take my soon-to-be-teenage daughter for a week-long program at a Florida university that will hopefully feed her love of science and technology.  At the very least, it should make use of her aptitude for the two.  It could be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with a college that has multiple summer programs for middle and high school students who may be a good fit to eventually attend the university.  But the closer we get to departure, the more my mind wanders away from the matter at hand.

This will be my second trip to Florida this year; the first was for the kung fu tournament in Fort Lauderdale back in February that I celebrated at length in this past post.  It will also be the second since the trip to clean out my mother’s closet back in November of 2007, four months after she died.

We will be about twenty-five minutes from her old house, in a city where I spent a fair amount of time with mother before my daughter was born.  The last time the whole family was there together, my girl was barely four years old.  For her, this trip is mostly about the now.  For me, it may be as much about memories as anything else.

I’ve entertained doing my best to stay in the now by having a good time with my girl when camp lets out for the day and auditing a local kung fu class while she’s occupied in the lab.  But a good time with her would have to include trips to the beaches and piers she remembers almost as well as I do.  It will require a little frolic in the past.  And frankly, I’m a bit scared.

I’d rather not be reduced to a puddle by nostalgia.  That would be incompatible with the well-honed image and attitude of rock-solid Mama Bear that my daughter sees in me – as I saw in my mother.  Mom lost hers only days before the coma.  I’ll be grateful to have mine hold up through the week.


The Payoff

Just when I thought there was nothing left to surprise me about tournament competition, along came a trip to New Jersey, where the United Martial Arts Referee Association is based.   Yesterday in Mount Laurel was the first tournament competition for my better half, after spending two road trips being the keeper of the camera while nursing a torn meniscus. IMG_20140531_105323 IMG_20140531_120757 She came home with two silver medals, though one should have been gold (and yes, I know I’m biased).

We were the only “elderly” women in the room, and initially thought that as the only members of the oldest competitor age group, we’d simply be competing with each other.  We thought wrong.  It turns out that in New Jersey, black sashes and belts only compete against each other; the “advanced” category is composed of solely of brown and red.  So both Merle and I were competing against much younger folks who matched our sash color – and still we both lost the gold by two-tenths of a point or less.  Not too shabby for a couple of old girls in a room full of competitors and judges who all knew each other.  Additionally, we seemed to be the only ones in the room doing the Northern Shaolin style of a Chinese martial art.

I had the whiplash-producing experience of competing in the “open” weapons division.  At this particular tournament, that meant the event contained all ages, all styles and both genders all up against each other with radically different weapons and forms.  Everyone over thirty-five got creamed in points by a twenty-two-year-old guy who pretty much seemed to fly.

The biggest surprise of my day was tying my all-time high score not with a weapons form but with the killer open hands form of Lian Huan Tui! That surprise alone was worth the entry fee. Gym training is definitely paying off.