Friday, September 30, 2011

Jump In

It's a Friday night, my husband's away, I'm not in a particularly good mood, and I'd like to finish two things I started last night: True Grit, and a bottle of wine.

But I need to jump around instead. And get to bed early, so I can jump around in the morning.

The life of a fitness instructor: no one warned me. The body must be ready, as must the mind. The body, however, requires more discipline, in my opinion. You can wing the mental stuff, but the physical tests your humility. You thought you were Wonder Woman, you're not Wonder Woman. And here's the proof.

As for jumping tonight, I need to test out some of my ideas before I insist on them tomorrow. My class is a lovely bunch, very appreciative of any and all ass-kickings, and I must deliver. This is not the kind of class I can instruct from afar--I'm doing and demonstrating through most of it. Jumping jacks. Taking some guy's hard punches into the mitts and demanding he hit harder.

Holding off on the wine and movie is worth it--I discipline myself in order to push others past their limits, to show them that they can do what they thought they couldn't.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm In The Mood For (A Few Weeks Of) Love

Don't tell the internet filters, but something had to be done. Googling "sea monkey sex" was the least I could do; six hours had passed since I took note that two were still attached. SIX. Then seven. Eight. Finally I read the small print and learned they may keep this up for a few weeks. On my kitchen windowsill, whirling about while I slice strawberries and scrape the pots and pans. WEEKS. While swimming.

Those not attached at the present are already with child, and each of these ladies may produce 20 offspring. I tell you, the babies aren't babies for long; it was all cute when the specks finally became visible, but the rate at which they grow is alarming. Twenty each would equal 60 more, and once the amorous couple takes a breather, it's safe to say we'll have 80. That'll be in two weeks, right about when my husband returns from a long trip. At least someone's getting some action around here.

And what are these things, anyway? Crustaceans, yes, but they were sitting on a shelf in a rundown Toys R Us when I bought them for my son's eighth birthday. And now they're mating. Right when you think you've got it all figured out, powder from an envelope is mating at your kitchen window. I understand nothing.

What's with all the posts on mating? Time to go back and read my post on the mating style of the sloth. And another experience raising small creatures: The Ant Farm: She's Come Undone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Social Experiment

It's the third week of school. My husband had been taking the kids to the bus stop, a new location, and I would pick them up afternoons until Tuesday, when I filled in the morning shift. Walking the few blocks there, I spied the other kids and asked mine why they were all standing across from where I stand to pick them up.

"I don't know," my son said. "We just do."

The bus arrives, stops, flashes its lights, extends its gate, and the kids begin to cross the narrow neighborhood road in order to get to the bus's door. The driver yells at them to wait for her hand signal. They back up to the corner, she waves, they cross again.

"Why doesn't everyone just stand on the other side of the road like we do in the afternoons?" I ask a mom who stands with me every weekday at 4pm.

"I don't know," she said. "We just do."

Wednesday. I walk my kids to--you guessed it--the other side of the road. Some kids remain standing in the usual spot. One kid crosses over to us but it's a noncommittal act; he leaves his backpack on the other side. A parent approaches me and offers thanks.

"I'm really glad you did this," he says. "It didn't make sense to me that they'd cross the road in front of the bus every day."

The bus appears around the corner. The rest of the kids run across the street to us well before it pulls up. They jump the line in front of my kids, figuring they've been in line longer.

Day Two. We line up on the other--new?--side. Most of the kids are there. The mom's middle boy is put out by the switchover.

So, Class: What do you think will happen next? Describe your predictions and their subsequent social implications.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Way and That

Yesterday I led an 81-year-old man through an orientation on nautilus machines. Later that night, I hung out at a boxing gym and got to know a 16-year-old boy whose world is very different from mine.

Today I interviewed a woman in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for an article I'm writing. Tonight, I'll attend curriculum night at my kid's school.

Later this week, I'll lead a fitness class, and on Sunday I'll start some former prisoners talking about their next play, which I'll write and direct. Today I revel in the variety of jobs I do, yet there have been moments when I wished I had, at some point, specialized in a subject area. I wonder if my inability to settle derives from my childhood growing up between two homes, and if there are aspects which are unhealthy. Today, however, I will be thankful for the diverse people I meet, and grateful for the work I have to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Your Questions Answered: Which Comes First, The Learning Or The Doing?

UPDATE: LISA RESPONDED TO THIS POST. Check out her expert advice at The Glowing Edge.

This isn't a Your Questions Answered so much as I Had A Question But You Wanted To Hear My Thoughts First So You Can Respond In Your Blog So Here's What I Was Thinking.

I had asked Lisa at The Glowing Edge a boxing question, because I really respect her opinions, and she answered my question with a question. Don't you hate when people do that? But Lisa wanted to know more, and promised to reciprocate; she'd blog in response to my post addressing her question based on my question. What question? How much should you learn before you spar, and at what point do you get in the ring and learn there? It's to do with boxing, but there are general theories at play here, so I welcome the input of boxers and nonboxers alike.

Dear Lisa,

The young man faces me, squatting as he lowers the headgear to check its fit. "Too tight," I slobber out, my cheeks squeezed, my mouthguard hindering speech. Behind me now, he moves my ponytail and works to lessen the pressure.

Another man holds my hands and laces up the gloves; yet another comes by to tape them down. I move toward the ring, where an older fellow holds the vaseline that will protect my face. He dabs and smears, and when he finishes another man motions with a water bottle. He offers a squirt and I take it.

A man holds the ropes for me as I climb through. "First time?" he asks, and I nod. "Well then, cover up. Protect yourself."

The spa of sparring. An entourage tenders full and intimate care, fussing all over you. They're your team. In your corner. But the moment that bell rings, it's you and you alone. Protect yourself.

Kate Sekules opens her boxing memoir, The Boxer's Heart, with a recounting of her trainer's plan for her first professional fight. Throw the first punch, he told her. What then? she asked. He replied, You'll know what to do.

"That's it, the entire plan," she writes. "Slam a big right into her face and 'knock her thoughts out.'"

Of course, Sekules had lots of training behind her to call on. My story, however, ends at that first piece of advice: Cover up. I'd practiced a few moves, took a lot of direction on the bags, but at my gym, the real lessons come only when you spar. You try something in the ring, and you're offered advice on what to do next time.

So I went in there aiming to protect myself. First time sparring should not be analyzed too carefully--some people say you forget everything you've learned the second you get hit--but I think I can safely say I absorbed more punches than I needed to, even while covered. Because while everyone told me to cover up, they didn't tell me to move. My footwork was good, they tell me, but my head was too still a target. It hurt; I left thinking I need to learn a few moves before doing this again.

In the following weeks I would approach a favorite trainer and ask him specific questions. He worked with me. We fell into a rhythm of getting together evenings when I was there.

And the time came when I asked a question and realized it's all getting a bit hypothetical. I noticed I've been avoiding Thursdays, the sparring night.

Experienced boxers, theoretically, own enough control to give you only what you could handle; however, I knew I'd be matched up again with someone with no more experience than I have. I can't tell you how many times I've heard phrases like, "On the street I be like this, but here they have me do this." Many of these kids are street fighters with minimal boxing finesse, but working on it--on my body. Help.

I can't say that I've learned a whole lot more since that first sparring session, but at the same time I wonder if I won't learn much more until I get in there again. Sparring, after all, helped me understand the point of shadowboxing and all the rest, and provoked the questions I needed to answer for myself.

In the end, it's just me that gets in there, and no entourage can help me. I need to be ready.

But do I prepare quietly, or at the expense of a handful of ibuprofen and three days of a vice grip on my head? When do you cross over (or under the ropes, in my case), stop thinking, and just do?


Have a question? Make a comment! I'll respond in a future post.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mistakes I Made This Past Week

1. Bought shorts as school clothes just before the weather turned

2. Took kids to wrong bus stop on first day of school

3. Walked around husband's staff party with toilet paper hanging off my pants