Tag Archives: happiness

Acceptable Labor

The bad news is that Merle and I both spent several hours of the holiday working.  The good news: Merle can still work.  She’ll get the results of the MRI tomorrow and fingers remain crossed until then that it’ll be a quick recovery back to black sash testing.  Now, she tells me, it’s a vendetta.

My son and I finished out the waning hours of the holiday walking down to a Polish restaurant he’d been wanting to try for a while.

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We settled on Perogies and Chicken Kiev…

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Then I returned to my own kitchen to experiment with new cake recipes and prep for a food safety certification course.

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At the office taking care of current obligations… in my kitchen looking forward to new, sweeter ones.  That’s a more than acceptable Labor Day.


Ninety and Ninety

Ninety minutes of learning in the guan today.  Ninety minutes of teaching at the gym.  My most faithful student came early and stayed late for the final class of the session, and I hobbled together an hour of self-training in the time before and after she left.  By the time I washed off the day’s training and teaching in the shower, I’d been in one set of kung fu clothes or another for more than eight hours and felt like I’d worked every muscle I have, whether I wanted to or not.

It was a successful, exhausting day of martial arts mania.  And I liked it.  A lot.


Here’s hoping the next session brings many more like it… along with new and better ways to  nurse my knees when the days are done! 🙂

The Wrap Around Gotham

My heart is happy when I’m in New York.  Neither I nor my employer can afford a decent hotel room in the city that’s big enough to accommodate kung fu practice – and I don’t care.  This is notable because I care very much about space to train with any other place I visit for work or pleasure.  That should say it all when it comes to my feelings about NYC, but I’m going to go on.

Manhattan has been special to me since the first time I stepped off the commuter train from Connecticut, holding my mother’s hand, to go visit Santa at Macy’s, then go slip on the ice at Rockefeller Center.  Later, I loved it because I was a middle school glee club member and stage rat who fell head over heels for Broadway and everything about the theater district.  Then came the crazy teen years and jumping on the train to hang out in Greenwich Village with my best friend and my fake ID.  That was followed by a first salaried job as a wardrobe supervisor for a suburban theater, where I was invited out on the island with the ladies and gents of the ensemble and introduced to several of the city’s great restaurants.

Winter traditions, Broadway, Bohemia, food – they all just scratch the surface of what makes me nuts about New York.  As I write, I realize that I’ve had goosebump-great moments there with each parent, both spouses, both children and three of the four people who were my closest friends before the age of twenty-five (and are still friends to this day).  That’s not true of any other place on the planet, including my hometown.

Anyway, here’s some of what I saw, did and enjoyed in this working, reunion weekend in Gotham.


I finally got a meal at a seafood joint I’ve been wanting to get to since I first heard of it a year ago – and the food was as good as it looked.


Work was crazy-making and exhausting, but there’s no denying it offered a rollicking good time to those around me, both outside the Schomburg Center…

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…and in.


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A brush with Mr. Mosley’s literary greatness didn’t hurt either.

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All in all, it was exactly what the doctor ordered at the end of a sad anniversary.  Funny how the universe provides what we need… though often in unexpected wrappers.

It’s All Over…

Wednesday is second only to Monday as the busiest night in the gym.  It’s the evening there’s a spin class, a yoga class, and an occasional bootcamp in the hallway.  Meanwhile the squash round-robin group owns both courts until at least eight o’clock.  If there’s anyone in the boxing room, then I’m just completely out of luck until as late as 8:30.  It used to be quite a challenge and lesson in patience to get my training in.  Not anymore.

I now have access to this room,…




despite this sign.



It’s a perk of being an employee!  And after months of waiting, wondering, preparing for it not to come through, I’m officially part of the team.

In the last two days, I’ve filled out almost as many papers as it took to buy my house, sat through my supervisor reading the employee handbook to me (at least she was entertaining while whizzing through forty pages) and taken a computerized test on sexual harassment.  It’s now all over but the bowing in… and the CPR course.  I have more than enough time to take it, because the club’s annual cleaning and refurbishment is three weeks from now.  My class starts the following Friday – July 18th at 6 p.m.

Until then, I’ll be perfecting my White Eyebrow in the room with the most appropriate of signs. 🙂



Proper Distance and Speed

Less than two months into the school year, my daughter’s weekly grade reports from her English and History teacher always had a zero on them.  She would either not complete the homework she handed in or forget to hand in the homework she completed.

Then there was Math, the subject for which she has a natural aptitude.  She hated it.  She had to actually pay attention and read the questions thoroughly to keep from making mistakes of oversight.  And the girl was used to just flying through math homework on the way to anything more interesting.  So getting my ADD girl to slow down, pay attention, remember assignments and, well, care – without taking medication – felt like a second job.  That job lasted through the holidays, then into the new year, and all the way to winter break.

When all was said and done and the final bell rang on seventh grade, that girl of mine brought home a report card with nothing on it lower than a 90!  It was her best academic year yet, and it required a celebration.  So on Friday, after a relentless stream of appointments and errands that included my drug screening for teaching at the gym, the family took off to Ava’s personal idea of heaven on earth: Dave and Busters.

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By the time she finished playing every driving game in the building and cashed in her tickets, she was a happy high honor roll student – and I was ready for a nap.


My afternoon was supposed to end with a meeting to fill out my employment paperwork at the gym, but that had to be postponed to Tuesday (the program director and Kid’s Club director have yet to get together on when and in what room my class will begin!).  I opted to drop by the gym anyway and put the proper distance and speed on The Walk in White Eyebrow.   It was the right choice and a very successful night of training after a wonderfully celebratory day.

I got a frown and a perfunctory return on the bow to Sifu this morning.  It may have had nothing to do with my absence from Friday class.  Either way, I was completely guilt free!

Like Riding a Bike

MAC poster

This is the picture on the notice the gym emailed to the parents of Kid’s Club members to finally begin the sign-up for my class!  I’m starting to get a little nervous, since I’m months out of teaching practice.  But as natural as sharing my joy of kung fu is for me, teaching it again should be just like riding a bike.

I’m so excited I can barely stay in my chair!  I’m suppressing the urge to keep popping up out of my cubicle like a mole that needs whacking.  More later….


Rich in Blue

It was a beautiful morning in the temporary neighborhood, briefly captured as best as possible from stop lights, stop signs and a parking space the aviators and techies were rushing me out of, once my daughter was safely in their care.




Watching teensy little Cesnas (or whatever make they may be) take off over my car in one-minute intervals, into a sky that just doesn’t seem as rich in blue in my actual neighborhood as it is in the Sunshine State, planted Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” in my head at a high imaginary decibel.  It played on a loop right up until I started fidgeting with the air conditioning in the banquet room turned guan.  And it returned when, on the day’s twenty-third repetition of what I know of White Eyebrow, I obtained the proper pace and rhythm for “The Walk.”  At least it looks that way to me.  If I’m wrong, someone will most definitely tell me.  Many someones, actually.

I had to slow it down to even approach getting it right.  I apparently also had to step out of the shot (oops).   I’ll worry about the up-tempo version, well… tomorrow.  But just for today, it felt pretty good.

Warrior’s Jig


I end every training session by loosening up my over-exerted leg muscles on a foam roller.  From the floor after last night’s workout, this is what I looked up to find punctuating the quiet solace of my meditative stretching.



My Sanshou-loving boy is the only martial artist I know who winds down at the end of a sweaty night at the gym by tossing out a hundred or so fast-flying punches.  It’s an impressive display of youthful stamina that makes me… well, jealous.

When he finished his punches with earbuds still firmly lodged in his ears, he started dancing.  I watched him finish out the song and shared in the joy that accompanies a good night of kung fu – especially with classics from Red Hot Chili Peppers in the background.  He aptly named the evening’s finale “The Warrior’s Jig.”


And I danced one myself earlier today when I received an email from the Kid’s Club Director at the gym.  It said, among other things, “Attached is the application and background check. We will go ahead and get started to add you as an employee.”

It’s been quite the long wait, but unless someone slips a mickey into my water bottle that wrecks my drug test, I’ll be teaching wannabe white sashes after I return from vacation in mid June.  And that news is most definitely worthy of a warrior’s jig!

Not-So-Easy Streets

It was a beautiful day in the capital today, and I was conscious of needing a greater-than-normal infusion of protein to ready myself for a return to Sanshou class.  So I bypassed the salad I normally bring to work in favor of procuring a hefty sandwich.  The walk off the beaten path to a deli I only hit a couple of times a year afforded me a view of the street I work on that I don’t encounter often on foot.  So I captured it.


I’ve spent the majority of my waking hours for the past seven years in a building at this intersection.  It sends a shiver down my spine when I think of it that way.


About six hours later, I thought the street on which I’ve spent the second greatest number of waking hours in the last several years deserved to be commemorated as well.  This one – the one where my kung fu school has existed for more than thirty years – means a lot more to me than the first.  In fact, as the years have ticked on, my feelings for the two have completely reversed.

I was once so grateful to be back near Capitol Hill, bringing the news of what happens there (or doesn’t, as the case may be) to the interested masses, after a long hiatus for childbirth and another college degree.  Now, I go there almost exclusively for the paycheck.  There’s gratitude for that still, of course, but no longer the kind that’s wrapped around joy.

“Kung Fu Road,” in contrast, was once a place I went to get a little exercise and lose a little weight.  But most of all, it was where I dragged myself to make a resentful child a little happier, after I moved him up the highway against his will.  Now, it’s the street where I changed for the better when I wasn’t looking, and I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent there for anything.

Neither has been an easy street to occupy.  But both have made my journey a fascinating one.

Here’s to the streets each of us trudge in our lives and the days we have to enjoy them….


Smile Therapy

I woke up with a sore throat from the cold I’ve been fighting off for a month with endless horse pills of vitamin C. So I took the day off to give my body much-needed rest.

I have to work this Sunday to cover for a producer who’s on vacation. That would have been my second one-day weekend of the month, if I hadn’t called in today.

I have to spend four days in Los Angeles next weekend working on a show that I don’t think is worth crossing the country to do. I would have flown the author to us as normal, but the call wasn’t mine to make.

My computer stopped working last night. I found out from the tech person at Office Depot that my hard drive is shot, and it would cost less to buy a new laptop than fix the hard drive.

I drove across town to the martial arts store to replace my staff only to find a “back at 3p” sign on the door. It was 2 o’clock at the time.

In short, mind and body are dealing with more than a few annoyances today. So I’m smiling broadly – at every stranger I pass on the street, at every customer service rep and cashier working with me. And you know what? They’re smiling back, adding warmth to the day, making me feel good about having the presence of mind not to be dragged down by ankle biters.

Each day turns on the little things, it seems. I’m rarely let down when the part that I play is a positive one.


Hope and Headaches

It finally happened – the slam that broke the staff. A small section near the top of the narrow end splintered, leaving the length of the staff in tact with a chunk missing from one side. The damage isn’t even in a section that interferes with sliding my hands around; so I’m not at risk for splinters. Still, I’m going to have to replace it before I can use it in another tournament – an expense I was putting off as long as possible. That’s the bad news from the weekend.

The good news is that I learned a bit of how to spin the staff while also spinning my body around. It’s a move I’ve been most fearful of, since it always looked likely to come with a few knocks of the staff against my head. Sure enough, it does. The edges of my frontal plate, where forehead turns into temple, are both feeling pretty tender. I’m just glad there aren’t two symmetrical knots at the top of my face.

Even better news: I met with my future supervisor today at the gym and was also introduced to head of operations. They tell me that the soonest they’ll get the class started is the middle of May, but they’re toying with the idea of just waiting for the summer. When school’s out, I’m virtually guaranteed to have parents beside themselves looking for things for their children to do that don’t involve sitting in front of a screen. I still hope I can get back at it sooner rather than later.

Not much else happening in my kung fu world that hasn’t been written about incessantly. I’m just filled these days with hope and headaches and grateful for such a high class of problems.

The Missing Question

Do what you love, and the money will follow.  If you love what you do, you’ll never really work a day in your life.  These adages keep bouncing around between the ears, as I recall the series of questions I was asked to answer yesterday for the new gig at the gym.  Each question made me happier than the last, in that they offered me a measure of control I hadn’t previously had as a teacher.

“Do I require a minimum number of students?  Do I have a maximum?  What kind of room set-up will I need?  Do I need the gym to acquire equipment for my class?  What days and times work best for me to teach?”

The last question presented the greatest challenge, because I really wanted to answer: “Whenever you want me to.”  That would not have been wise.   Most notable was the question that wasn’t on the list.  There was nothing at all about expectation of pay – and I was unbothered by the absence.

In the almost two months I’ve spent trying to get this kung fu class off the ground at their facility, the only thought I’ve ever given to compensation is: maybe they’ll give me the gym membership for free in exchange.  Depending upon how successful the program is and how often I find myself teaching, free membership might turn out to be a drop in the bucket for what the class is worth to the gym.  After all, the gym folks are phrasing this as “branching into a new market.”  Common sense says not to sell myself short, and yet I find myself thinking…whatever.

It appears I’ve actually been underestimating how much I love teaching kung fu, if that’s possible.  For I truly just want to do what I love and let the money follow.  That’s a first for this career woman and mother of two, with one child a year away from college.  It’s a great feeling!

Class, line up!