Monthly Archives: August 2014

Britches and Cheeks

Watching from the car as my children and other students awaited the arrival of Siheng, I realized that a month had passed since last we had a Thursday with Pooh.  First he was on vacation; then, we were college hopping. It was good to see him again.

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But my children’s adopted local dad came back from vacation with a bee in his britches.  No more socializing, goofing off, complaining, he lectured. His is an advanced class; it’s time to stop acting like beginners, he told the class.  He took half of the blame for the relaxed atmosphere on his watch, but no more.   Pooh was decidedly out of honey, yet no one seemed to mind.

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It was a hard-working, focused session.  My son leaves town on a high note for vacation with the grandparents; my daughter leaves with the worrisome realization that even with Pooh, who’s awfully fond of her, she’s going to have to act like a red sash – finally.

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What’s the worst thing that could happen?  She might get tapped for black sash testing earlier than she thinks.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Merle practiced all of her under sash forms to prepare for her first of twelve black sash tests.  The kids are going to miss cheering her on for the first test but will have a front-row seat for number two.  If all goes well, my better half and I will share the same black sash award anniversary weekend every January.  That thought makes me grin until my cheeks hurt.

Speaking of hurt cheeks, there’s nothing like a form full of deep empty stances (at least four, by quick count) to make this woman more conscious of her ass than I ever wanted to be.  I’ve spent so much time this summer concentrating on swinging the staff, running with it, walking with it, turning, etc. that I was temporarily oblivious to the pain that can be generated just standing still with it, like below.  Of course the only reason they hurt so much is because this pose is much closer to the floor these days than it is here.

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Progress can be painful… especially when the goofing off is done.

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The Corporate Go Ahead

The first email appeared around 9:30 a.m.  The member of the marketing department in charge of announcing the enrollment period for the second session liked all the changes I asked to make to my class.  She enthusiastically jumped into creating two fliers and website announcements: one announcing a demo session for parents and children; the other detailing the cost and session dates.

But I kept waiting for a shoe to fall.  I was quite conscious that, excluding the owners of the gym, there were three people above her on the company hierarchy.  Just because she liked the idea of a family class didn’t mean I had the corporate go ahead.  An hour later, I had that go ahead and more.  The head of the marketing department announced her approval of the class changes, and the program director for the entire company was cc’d on the email, indicating the off-camera conversation, as we like to say at that day job.

For the rest of the day, emails flew back and forth tweaking wording and pricing.  It felt like a joint endeavor to kick the next session off right – something I’d been sorely missing for a first session that was hastily thrown together after weeks of delays.

It’s been a depressing few days, as a job that would have paid me what I want and allowed me to work from home was waved in front of me like a cookie before a toddler, then snatched away just as I began to sink my teeth into it.  I wasn’t even looking for it; didn’t know it was there.  An old college friend breezed into town and told me I had to sit down with his boss to discuss running their communications department.  I left our impromptu lunch with him clearly stating he wanted to hire me.  But the partner I didn’t meet overruled him.  Or so I was told.

Today’s excitement and anticipation was small but important.  I needed to feel something going right.  And I got what I needed.


Playdate with Punches

Sifu and Siheng Steve have the same sports car.  It’s the school sticker on the back windshield of Sifu’s that alerts me to our leader’s presence before I reach the school door.  When I saw it Monday night, the only night of the week he doesn’t come to the guan, I knew immediately that he was filling in for Siheng Chris, teaching the beginner class.  It’s been six months since Sifu suspended my teaching privileges, and he still doesn’t call me to fill.  Even though I now have a class of my own that will hopefully grow, it still hurts a little to feel outside the fold.  I suspect that the pain will decrease in direct proportion to the success of my class at the gym.  So I’ll just keep the focus where it belongs.

To that end, I’m happily anticipating the announcement for the second session of the class.  This one will be open to parents as well, just as the guan is filled with families of students.  I’m finding, as my young charges become more annoyed with the increased level of energy required of them to learn the white sash form, that the class may have been assumed to be a playdate with punching, instead of an actual kung fu class.  It will be good to have parents know what they’ve actually signed their kids up for.  It will also be good to have students with a longer attention span mixed in with the ones who need to be entertained.  Here’s hoping I get a good turnout, whatever the mix.


Randomness and Reason

Does everything happen for a reason?  I used to believe adamantly that it did.  Then, a series of hard and horrible things happened over a few years, and I was at a loss as to why.  So my brain did a 180 and started thinking of everything as random.  It was easier that way.

Now, I wait to hear whether an unrequested gift that was dangled unexpectedly before me a week ago will in fact be mine.  I wait wondering if it’s a gift at all or merely the greatest reason I’ve had in years to reconsider whether everything happens for a reason.

Meanwhile a trip to Target before afternoon training at the gym brought another unexpected gift our way.  I was there for a reason: new workout shirts.  My son made a random decision to accompany his sister and me, and it led him to the happiest shopping moment of his life.

He’s wanted to be Batman since he was three.  Thanks to his afternoon purchase, he feels a step closer.  So… does everything happen for a reason?

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It’s the Little Things

The last couple of days have been filled with little things that make me happy.  Just going home to Connecticut means visiting with aunts, cousins and a cantankerous 95-year-old grandmother that would stop speaking to me if I photographed her at this stage in her life.

It also includes a mandatory visit to the grocery store of my childhood, which happens to be the coolest place on the planet to buy food.  I get a kick out of watching my kids make a beeline for their favorite items in a store that’s enthralled me from the first time I watched the milk go into the half gallon carton we’d later bring home.

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We later enjoyed the comfortable hospitality of the aunt-in-law’s beautiful Brooklyn brownstone.  That was actually not a little thing.  Having a relative with the space to put us all up saved the expense of hotel for four people. Yay!

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Come Thursday morning, we were back evaluating colleges in weather that teased us with threats of rain that thankfully never came.  Cloudy-turned-to-sunny is another little thing that makes me happy.

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I had the presence of mind to save my arthritic knees for pounding the pavement farther down the highway in Philadelphia and simply watched my boy wander around the Redmen’s Queens campus from the top of a very large stairway.

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After fighting the insanity of New Jersey Turnpike traffic, we arrived fifteen minutes late for the last tour of our trip.  But we managed to catch up with the groups just as they were leaving the auditorium and beginning the walk around the campus.  Perfect timing – a little thing that often feels huge.

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Another traffic battle through Philly’s rush hour brought us home to a water heater hose repair and more than an hour of separating preservable photos from the ones that had to be discarded.  The upside, of course, was a visit with old pictures and warm memories.

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Bottom line at the end of a whirlwind trip: it’s the little things that make for life’s big days!