I’m behind in my posting, which irks me almost as much as being late with homework. But it couldn’t be helped. Sometimes taking care of things is more important than writing about what you’re taking care of, and my days seem to be filled with that circumstance with greater frequency. How cool is that? I think, once the impulse to scold myself passes.
My food manager certification is in the mail, as I passed the exam with flying colors! So I’ve now begun working on the first real business plan of my life, the construction of which is redefining the term time-consuming as I know it. Rent or purchase? Mobile or stationary? Wholesale or retail? These are the questions for the baker side of my life. Then, there’s the Sijeh part. (Greater explanation of these “parts” discussed here.)
I ordered sashes this week to tie around my students and hopefully inspire greater investment. The key to the success of the kung fu side of my future lies in keeping the students I have, of course, and acquiring new beginners every session. Flier construction has already begun for enticing the next crop in November. The difference between the number who expressed interest and those who finally showed up was too large. I’ve got five weeks to shrink it. But, no pressure.
Meanwhile, it appears there’s a new form on my horizon. On Saturday, I was assigned a move with the staff that involves shooting it off the left arm from behind the back and catching it with the opposite hand. It’s a nifty little trick that requires moving the breakables out of the way and making sure the lower back muscles are sufficiently stretched. I thought Sifu was a making a change in one of the final moves of White Eyebrow until Siheng Allen (pictured below, instructing the Monday night class) said: “Oh, that’s for the spear.”
Spear?? There’s a spear in my future… along with a whole lot else! 🙂
I’ve never seen a single episode of the HBO program The Wire. What makes that strange is the fact that I live in the city where it’s set. I’ve lived in Baltimore for six years, now; so I’ve had plenty of time to rectify the anomaly. But the longer I live here the more I’m happy I’ve never seen a show that I’m told presents the worst aspects of the city, albeit in fictional form.
These were my thoughts early this afternoon walking five blocks down the street to my neighborhood Safeway. It’s been forever since I’ve been out of the office and home, with the time and opportunity to walk to the grocery store, and it was a beautiful day for it.
This is the view in the front of the place where I buy most of the family’s food.
The Wire’s settings are very real, however, and we go through a few of them on the way to the guan and back. So I fully understand the D.C. friends who asked incredulously why I was moving to Baltimore – almost all of whom asked, “Haven’t you seen The Wire?”
Nope. I’ll get around to it eventually. But much to the chagrin of my D.C. native son (my daughter considers herself from Baltimore, despite being born in D.C.), in a battle between the nation’s capital and Charm City, the latter has won me over… in everything but baseball. 🙂
Now, off to the first kung fu class of my second session at the gym.
I’ve spent the night studying. I haven’t had to study for anything since the last set of exams some nine years ago. This is nothing like that.
Food, glorious food… and scary foodborne illnesses that I’m cramming to learn how to keep out of my baked goods.
Can it really be coincidental that I got my groove back on my White Eyebrow form tonight, in between study sessions?
Cupcakes and kung fu – a day closer to fruition! Back to the book…. 🙂
Two people dear to me received bad news this week. The issue for one was professional; for the other, medical.
Bad news produces a predictable response for me. I feel angry and know that emotion will last a while. I feel self-pity and immediately try to will that response away as quickly as possible, because it simply produces more anger. (Self-pity makes me feel weak; the Marine father is responsible for that.)
I do my best to get a prayer out as quickly as I can, even if it’s one of complaint. It serves to remind me that most things are beyond my control and that they always will be.
Depending on the news, I probably shed some tears or at least feel the sting of salt from the ones that don’t fall. Then, I make a call or send a text to Merle, because being loved makes all things bad better.
Finally, I do some kung fu: a volley of triple straight punches into the elevator air, as if the bad news has taken physical form that I can strike. A couple of sidekicks against the wall of the handicapped bathroom stall – gently, so as not to damage a knee or be heard by others. The release is cathartic and just enough to get me to the next class, where I can thoroughly purge it all out and take the next right step to the next best thing.
Neither of my friends do kung fu, but they have their equivalents. We all do, I believe, even if not recognized as such. Whatever returns one to center, provides assurance that all will be right at some point, even if “right” looks different than initially imagined, that’s the best bet for getting to the other side of bad news.
My son doesn’t believe in free will. He’s a philosophy buff with strong analytical skills that serve him well most of the time, but he may be overthinking things on this one. By contrast, my daughter acts as if she thinks free will is the end all and be all, and there should be nothing but personal choice.
Sitting in front of the flower stand in Philadelphia’s South Street today, scarfing down a snack before an author interview, I was feeling pretty philosophical. That’s what got me thinking about my children and choices. I wondered if the very campus I was headed to for a work assignment would be Aaron’s home by this time next year. He would then spend a fair amount of time in the very station I was sitting in, catching trains home for… kung fu.
Will he be chosen by the school(s) of his choice? What will he choose to do if not? I wondered.
What if my own first and second choices for colleges had been reversed and I’d gone to Boston instead of D.C.? I wouldn’t have been in D.C. to choose to help a co-worker drive from Washington to Austin for graduate school. Aaron and Ava wouldn’t be here, then. I wouldn’t have met the Texan ex-husband without those choices.
Choices and the consequences thereof can be wild and crazy things. Even the ones that seem like minutia can be game changers. I thought as I sipped from a soda.
As I gathered my equipment to head to the taxi stand, I could feel a headache coming on. It was time to give philosophical musings a rest. So I chose to do just that.
My beautiful babes were in a goofy mood as they waited to get through airport security. I’m in the middle of day one of nine without my loquacious Minecraft and Warriors-loving girl and my ear buds-donning, bilingual boy, with arms full of self-made bracelets.
He held up the security line for a good five minutes getting them off and back on. I’m fairly certain he’ll pack some of them on the way back.
All four family members sweat together in Saturday’s upper sash class. It’s the only hour of the kung fu week that we’re all guaranteed to be together. So, of course, I missed my kids today — particularly as my beleaguered glutes started screaming for relief somewhere around the forty-fifth outside crescent kick.
Misery loves company. In this Saturday of seemingly endless kicks and horse stance holding, my daughter would have commiserated and then some. “Batman” might have asked to kick in another rotation or two. Then, I would’ve wanted to kick him. 🙂
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bottom line at the end of a whirlwind trip: it’s the little things that make for life’s big days!
The day started with the hot water heater literally showering boxes of photos in the basement, with a profoundly poor-timed leak. The four of us were on our way out the door for Aaron’s college visits but delayed the departure to spread dozens of pre-digital memories out on the family room floor. Here’s hoping the pictures dry well enough to be worth keeping.
Rather than be bogged down with depression over drenched photographs, I spent the day taking dozens more of a child who grew much too fast and is a measly year away from moving on. He’s still looking for where he’s going next, and we were along for the ride. Actually, we were the ride.
Monday was one of those adrenaline-draining workdays that almost left me too worn out for evening kung fu. Almost.
My commuter train was forty-five minutes late on a jam-packed taping day; so I was tense before I could even make it to my desk. Within five minutes of being in the building, I was informed that the car sent to pick up my first guest of the day was stuck behind an accident, 20 miles from the author’s house. And his house was 80 miles from the studio.
There are no Uber cars in Maryland farm country! And driving himself was problematic because he was heading to the airport after taping the show. In other words, I had a royal mess on my hands before 10 a.m., and I could feel the gray hairs multiplying.
While I was trying to get my guest in and around two metropolitan beltways, my crew was trying to reconnect the power supply to lights and cameras in the studio. Somehow the weekend cleaning crew left studios A and B completely unplugged – and no one had a reason to notice until it was time to set up for my shows. Thank God they had the presence of mind not to tell me about reconnection problems until after they were solved – and my guest was flying down Interstate 95 in his own car, with a passenger willing to drive it back to his house.
For the second show both guests were inconveniently early, arriving as we tried to inhale lunch in between the two tapings. But after the morning’s insanity, I was just glad they arrived without incident. That show’s controversy was entirely on set, as two Washington legends debated the facts and fiction behind a forty-year-old presidential resignation.
In short, I earned my check today… and was more than ready to lace up the gloves and hit the bags from the moment I heard, “That’s a wrap.”
“My hands are sweating!”
“That’s okay. That means you’re doing it right.” It’s one of my favorite things to tell young students when they tell me about something that’s making them uncomfortable.
“But I don’t want sweat on my hands,” said the barefooted five-year-old, looking up at me like I was weird.
“Let’s do five more kicks, then we’ll take a break and get a towel for your hands.”
I had to turn my attention to the earnest little dancer next to him to keep from laughing. Her hands were also sweaty, but her smile was immovable. I could tell that even at six she was used to being good at the activities her mom enrolled her in – and kung fu was at least the third.
A class of two, so far: five and six, boy and girl, bored and focused. The girl was almost at the class door before running back to hug me goodbye; the boy ran back to the door, after leaving with his father, to wave goodbye a second time from the other side of it.
And so the new class begins. I’m warm and fuzzy already….
Thursday afternoon, I’m anxious. Then, he’s home. He gets off the plane taller, more philosophical, more fluent in Spanish…
and psyched to go to kung fu.
Friday afternoon, I’m frazzled. I’m going to multiple stores for a slew of necessary shopping and a medical emergency. Then, it’s time to go to work. It’s the moment I’ve been waiting on since mid-April: the return to teaching.
Friday night, I’m dejected. There’s only one sign-up for the Friday class and the 7-year-old is a no show. I tell Aaron about the class that wasn’t when he gets home from work and ask absentmindedly while climbing the stairs, “You think the universe is trying to tell me something?”
“I think the universe is just speaking,” answers the president of the philosophy club. “It just talks and we construe things however we want.”
“Well said. I’m going to have to steal that.”
Long day, disappointing night, and one thought remains: I’m so glad he’s home.