Tag Archives: weather

Thursday to Thursday

A week ago Thursday, I stood at the counter in the health department’s environmental protection division with ten minutes to spare before closing time.  I had the proof of workmen’s compensation in my folder of regulatory documentation, and my heart was racing at the prospect of finally being finished with the city’s hoops and ladders.  Ms. Owens flipped through my folder of goodies and said: “Now, I just need a copy of your lease.” I dropped my head so hard, I thought my chin would hit my chest.  I could see myself putting the lease down on my desk with one hand as I picked up the workmen’s compensation plan with the other.  I’d gone from having an incomplete folder to having … an incomplete folder.   She looked at my face and said: “We open tomorrow at 8:30a.”

I knew that, of course, but I also knew I had to be in D.C. the next day – and that I might hurt someone if I had to wait another day to be approved to open.  Apparently, it was written all over my face.  All I had to say in a practical whisper was: “I have to be in D.C. tomorrow.”  Ms. Owens then made me an offer I could’ve kissed her for, and after a comedy of technical errors and slow cell towers, Ms. Owens had in her inbox emailed photographs of each page of my lease (my better half is the woman to have in a pinch!), and I had the little yellow card that said I could sell food with the approval of the City of Baltimore!

Since then, days and times have completely run together, kinda like this:

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Alone on Sunday in the programming department on what was likely my last day of producing a live television program.  It was the longest job of my life, and at times, I was remarkably fulfilled in this building.  It remains nice work if you can get it; I’ve just gone as far with it as I’ll ever be allowed to go – and life’s too short to go through the motions.

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Monday brought the window vinyls and more elbow grease.  Tuesday brought an aborted store sign installation.   (I may never understand why it’s so hard to get a good sign in two weeks’ time).

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Wednesday brought a grease fire in an oven at the commercial kitchen where I cook that started  ten seconds after I turned it on to preheat.  By 3 p.m. I was scrambling to safely finish the goods for the opening I was determined wouldn’t wait another day.   Thursday morning, 3 a.m.: about twenty dozen cupcakes, pie cups and cookies later, I fell into bed.

IMG_20141209_110924And on the first snow day of 2014 in Charm City, the doors of Stupid Delicious! sputtered open for business at a pace designed to work out the kinks.

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The so called grand opening will be Saturday – the first time in years I’ll miss kung fu class without being at a tournament or on a business trip.  Then again, this is a business trip – all day every day, minus time out for the martial arts addiction that keeps me from flipping out.  The last seven days of blurred sunrises and sunsets have driven that message home, if nothing else.

Now time to catch up on sleep… while I can. 🙂

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Keeping Up & Staying Cool

Not much to say tonight.  Just feeling happy, joyous, free… and exhausted.

Kung fu this week has been high-flying, painful, satisfying and fun.  Keeping up with Siheng Brandon is an exercise in futility for my old bones, but it’s awfully fun to watch.

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Equally sweat producing was the beginning of the tours of college campuses that being the mother of an incoming senior brings.  As luck would have it, it was 100 in the shade as we pounded the pavement of Terp territory.  Here’s hoping next week in my beloved New England and New York will be cooler!

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Rhythm, Rest & Restraint

I began this writing from a rental car in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel.  I was waiting for a morning thunderstorm to lighten up enough for me not to be completely drenched just by opening the door.  It was the tenth or eleventh thunderstorm of the week, including the one we landed in.  I have to drive an hour down the highway to Orlando in a few hours and board a plane a couple of hours after that.  I really need for my departure from Florida to be smoother than my arrival.  That requires an extended window between thunderstorms that have seriously cramped the off hours of our week.

All’s been well for morning drop off, but there’s been loud and heavy rain both before and after pick up, daily.  Mother Nature gave Ava and me a short opportunity to stick our feet in wet sand and stroll along the pier yesterday before sending in another beastly wave of clouds.

Ava beach bound

My girl and I are returning home without having shared a swim, but we did share a healthy dose of quality conversation.  That was most certainly worth a bad week of weather!

After spending five days rising for camp just thirty minutes later than we would for work and school, we’re both more than ready to sleep late and sleep in our own beds (unfortunately, I only have Sunday to do the former).  Creatures of habit that we are, we’re also anxious to get back to our routines.  For Ava, that’s looking ahead to Sunday with her dad; for me, that’s looking ahead to Sunday at the gym.  With a little luck, I’ll have something new to practice after Saturday’s class…assuming that what I tried to beat (rhythmically, that is) into my muscle memory this week doesn’t go on hiatus in front of Sifu.

One of these days I’ll take a break from work that’s actually restful.  That would require leaving the staff at home, of course.  It would likely require restraints of some kind, too. 🙂

 


Training, Living, Control & Me

Another ridiculously productive night in the yoga room at the gym.

Another achy and anxious Saturday morning… anticipating the pain of the drills on Friday’s bruised muscles, anticipating the effect of Sifu’s mood on my own.

Another winter storm on the way to interrupt my new routine.  Mother Nature couldn’t care less about my medical appointments, tournament preparation, and the driving obstacles she throws in the way of people needing to get where they have to be.

At this point, all of winter feels personal.  But it will leave when it’s ready and do what it wants to do in the meantime.  That’s a simple truth about anything I can’t control.  And I can’t control anything but me.

I keep remembering a phone call with an old friend, the one whose children were black belts in tae kwon do before they were in high school, the one whose footsteps I followed in and enrolled my family in the same martial arts school.

“I’m not a very nice person,” she said on a day so long ago I can’t remember what made her feel that way.  I do remember disagreeing.  “Really, I’m not.”  She wouldn’t take no for an answer.

At the time, she was a few years younger than I am right now, and I remember wondering if one’s forties brought on a previously unknown level of self-criticism.  I’ve concluded that it does, merely as a result of increased self-reflection.  At least that’s true for me.

Today’s mission: do my best – the best in class with my body, the best with people in my mind.  No one’s mood or actions ever have to affect mine.  Because I have control of me.  Really, I do.


Murphy & Mother Nature

For those following the weekend’s storyline, our contender came in fifth overall, which makes him third runner up.  Given the quality of the competition I saw, that is a more than respectable outcome and a great first shot at the national team.  Here’s Sifu having a last practice with the Boy Wonder before his final performance.

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And so a busy and tiring weekend has come to an end.  Now begins an even busier week.  Once again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate and not close the school again – neither my children’s respective junior and senior high schools nor our collective kung fu school.  It would be classic Murphy’s Law, of course, having only two available evenings to practice for my tournament on Saturday, to be denied one or both by Mother Nature.  But I’m going to do my best to have faith in the powers of the universe that I’ll get what I need.  I am fond of saying that God has a sick sense of humor sometimes.  Now’s not the time to find out firsthand that payback is a bitch, as they say.

Worry will get me nothing, I know.  So I think I’ll decide to stop.  Okay… done.


Grounded

In almost five years of knowing her I’d never dialed her number before.  We’d exchanged a few texts about physical therapists, injuries, shots, but we’d never had a conversation outside of the school or a competition auditorium.  I called because I wasn’t sure if she’d see an email today; I didn’t know whether the snow that hit the coast had closed her office, and I needed an answer fast.

Almost every airport on the east coast was a ghost town with a few scattered people, informed too late about cancellations, sleeping in the boarding area seats.  So I suspected that my evening flight would also be going nowhere.  Though grateful not to have to take off on one icy runway and land on another, the grounding of my flight meant delaying my business trip almost a full week.  Both the taping schedule for my show and personal plans would make it impossible to leave for Boston before Wednesday – a night that I teach.

Do I need to make do with a sandwich in the airport before the last flight out, so I don’t leave my fellow instructors and the students in the lurch?  Or can I head for the airport right after the office and have a decent meal before everything closes?  To answer this question, I needed to know if the other assistant teacher could commit to being present in my absence.

Under no circumstances, could we leave the place understaffed, when there’s another round of new students in the school now.  They take more of the instructor’s time, especially when they’re children.  Short-staffed would therefore mean short-changed for someone.  That wouldn’t do.

With my colleague in our travel department waiting on me to tell her what flight I wanted to replace the cancelled one, it dawned on me that I wasn’t the least bit concerned about the weather’s effect on the interview I would have six fewer days to edit.  I was just annoyed to be taken out of my teaching and training routine.

How dare this job get in the way of my hobby!  If I had a dime for every time that thought ran through my head, I’d have the bills prepaid for quite some time to come!


Playmate No More

The snow started falling at four in the afternoon.  Sparring class was scheduled for 5:30. At 4:30, the email came through telling us that class was still on, and we were in the car before five.  We’d successfully dodged the weather bullet, but for how long?  About ninety minutes, the answer turned out to be.

I couldn’t leave it all on the floor Thursday night, despite the desire to make up for the New Year’s Day closure and prepare for public performance – to say nothing of burning off a few more calories from the anniversary celebration trip.  At first, sparring class itself, with more students than I would have expected to brave the weather, limited the space I could comfortably occupy with a swinging staff.  But the weather proved to be a greater enemy than square yard (or meter) limitations.  Getting the family home in one piece, when on the road with those who seem regularly challenged by driving on dry pavement, had to be the first priority.

Snow has always been a lifelong friend and playmate… until kung fu.  As it continues to coat the streets with an ever-thickening layer of obstruction, I’m having a disturbing flashback to the blizzard of 2010, the one that closed public schools for a week and kung fu school for almost two!  It was then that I learned I’d been turned, that kung fu was no longer the equivalent of a gym membership to be used to trim my midsection. It was important to me in its own right and not interchangeable with anything else.

I’d just passed my blue sash test in early winter of 2010, and the snow started falling in droves just one day after my second class with a new purple sash wrapped around my waist.  I’d been taught the opening moves of the Shaolin Fist form, seven moves out of about fifty, if we’re breaking everything down into its smallest components.  So when the snow closed down our corner of the world, I was cooped up with virtually nothing new to practice.  And I had just started to feel like I was really doing something in class, like my body was starting to speak the kung fu language fluently.  Then, thanks to Mother Nature, translation class was out – literally – with only one new sentence to practice!

My family would have put me out had it not been for the sword.  We’d all started going to beginner weapons class as green sashes, the soonest we were eligible.  So I had a fair amount of the traditional sword form to practice – but without the room to do it in in my house (always the problem!).  To this day, there are blade marks in my living room ceiling and a couple of pieces of my furniture, simply because there was nothing else I could practice while imprisoned by winter in early 2010, and I had to practice something!

There are no ceilings in my house high enough to accommodate staff spins.  And as with Shaolin Fist four years ago, I don’t know enough of the new Xing Yi and Pa Chi freehand forms to tide me over if locked in by weather again.  So like a kid outside a locked candy shop, my nose is pressed against the glass, silently offering sacrifices to the cloud gods, if they will just confine this storm to a day or two’s inconvenience.  I know it’s not much, but it’s all I got.  Whatever it takes to dodge the weather bullet.


Let Up Already!

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….