Showing posts from 2011

Thingies and Stuff

When the kids and I pass by the store " Fitness Things ," we feel somewhat unsatisfied. Couldn't they have taken an extra moment or two around the board room table and come up with another name? One that gets to the true heart of their mission? We worked on some possibilities we feel they should consider. Here are the top contenders. Fitness 'R' Us Fitness Crap 'N' Stuff Thingies Related To Fitness Fitness Things But No Potato Chips Several Products Having Something To Do With Exercise Greg, too, is working on creative projects with the kids. Check out the Theophiles at The Musical Diary of Greg Scheer .

23.5 Books Read* This Year

I just began The Forgotten Affairs of Youth , if you must know; if finished, it would close out the Alexander McCall Smith category of books read* this year. That's the best I can do: sort. Despite all this writing, I'm not one for reviews. But if you're interested to know more about one or the other, comment on this post and I'll be happy to tell you more. Boxing/sports books A surprising number. Add to this I actually read through the sports section of the newspaper now, as well. On Boxing , Joyce Carol Oates More Than A Champion , Jan Philip Reentsma The Sweetest Thing , Mischa Merz The Boxer's Heart , Kate Sekules Spirituality of Sport , Susan Saint Sing Born To Run , Christopher McDougall Alexander McCall Smith novels He's just the best. In every way one can be the best. The Charming Quirks of Others The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party The Dog Who Came In From The Cold Joyce Carol Oates novels She's in the boxing category, too; she's that cool. Litt

Everything I Needed To Know: One Foot In Front Of The Other

As I write, the bone of my kneecap is bruised. The vastus medialis in that same leg has stopped firing, the adductor longus has atrophied, and the patellar tendon thickened and swelled. Both arms are limited by what's called tennis elbow, my right more than my left. The situation could be much worse; there could be sprains, a tear, I could need surgery. However, I'm a person who discovered something she enjoys and is good at, right when people are settling into middle age, and this something requires the use of these body parts. But let me tell you why I have hope. In this second installment of Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In My 41st Year , I'll explain the two sides of achieving a goal, based on my experience. one step at a time It started in November. I thought about how far I'd come athletically, from a chiropractor calling me everything but The Elephant Man, to tackling the sport ESPN has deemed most demanding . In the past year, especially, I'd seen si

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

A post from '09. Merry Christmas to all. Sometimes God chooses unlikely routes of communication. That's what we talked about Monday night at The Open Door, a homeless shelter for women. How the people called by God aren't always obvious choices (see John the Baptist) and the ways chosen by God don't make immediate sense (see Mary: young, single and not wealthy, carrying the Savior of the world in her womb). John the Baptist was sent to "prepare the way of the Lord," as we heard in a reading. Mary was the way the Lord had chosen, as we saw in a sketch by my friend John Cosper . But why? Why do this? Why should God put on flesh and be born of a woman? I cast parts for "The Incarnation" from Cloth for the Cradle , and told everyone we'd read the script through once, tune it up, then perform it for ourselves at the end of the night. We read. We discussed the meaning. I gathered the two narrators and God, and asked them to pick up the pace. &qu

Your Holiday Sea Monkey Update

There was one bunny and then none, no frogs then a bunch of tadpoles then several frogs then none, four mice then three then two and now two in separate cages. And then there are the sea monkeys . Once a packet of dust on a toystore shelf, now mating happily into the new year. Track their timeline back to September, when the sea monkeys were given to Theo on the occasion of his 8th birthday, under the assumption they'd provide a week's worth of entertainment. Now it's December, with no signs of this letting up. The large sea monkey population continues its happy swirling and weeks-long mating. But these are not September's monkeys, who made a feminist of Amy, as she watched the large, egg-sac heavy female struggle to swim for food with a mate hanging on; these are the grandchildren of the grandchildren. Generations upon generations have come and gone as I prepare meals in my kitchen. If I don't feed them, they hover, facing me at the sink, their large eyes (eyes?) o

Today: At Random

This is the album that will get me through the holidays; the sweet melancholy is perfect on a cold winter day like this. With songs like "Did I Make You Cry?", this guy has captured the nuances of Christmas, and couldn't be more right on with this album, quirky as it is. I especially like my profile of 88Improv for Northwestern College, mostly because it's really difficult to write about an improv troupe without having been to their show. A lot of what I'm paid to do at the Y is talk. Answer questions, get to know people, develop relationships--I'm a wellness coach, not a trainer, so my goal is to simply move people toward the next step, which involves getting to know where they are right now. There's a woman who has thanked me every day for the six months after I taught her to stretch after running, so today I thought I'd really blow her mind and offer to show her the nautilus machines. This worked as planned, and I'm thrilled she's finally

Do Not Try This At Home. Only At Hotels.

Family Fitness on holiday.

KO In The Classroom

Right across the hall from "Holiday Craftmaking," and down a few classrooms from "Knitting," Simon's mom taught kids how to punch. Having finally figured out how to make volunteering in my children's classrooms enjoyable (hint: choose something you like doing), I offered to teach boxing for a Happening Hobbies event, right alongside knitting, guitar, origami and zumba. Four 25-minute classes with 25 kids a piece. They make 5th and 6th graders big nowadays; some of those boys I'd put at 150+, and I could see in their eyes that all they wanted for Christmas was to hit stuff. The mitts took some concentration and serious arm tension (wouldn't have looked good if the teacher was taken out). You can read in one of my favorite posts the mantra my kids and I usually recite on days when I volunteer; this time, when asked why I did this, I added, "So you can say, 'My mom can beat up your mom.'" Just sayin'.

You Did It. Now for One More Hurdle

UPDATE: Shari didn't win. The money went to a brewing co-op idea, which was actually a good one, if you're into brewing beer. It was a fun ride, and it's not over yet; Shari will continue to help her community, money or no money. Thanks for your support and votes along the way--especially to my husband, who helped us get the presentation slides done and emailed at precisely the minute they were due. ----------------- Thanks to all of you and an awesome popular vote, Shari made it to the top five finalists of 5x5 night , and is now one step away from a chance at winning $5000 and making her dream come true. She'll present her idea, THE VILLAGE: Mothers Raising Mothers , next Tuesday night at the Grand Rapids Art Museum to a panel of judges and a live audience. Tickets are $5, doors open at 5pm, and each finalist has 5 minutes (get it?). Come and take part! Special thanks to Lisa Bledsoe of The Glowing Edge and Joe Maher of jmimages photography for lending out last mi

As It Turns Out, I'm Not Invincible

I have been prescribed a brace for my knee, a splint for my wrist, and a band for my elbow. The doctor said she needs to "shut me down" for a while. The physical therapist said I must "avoid the tendency to overdo things." We had just met. I left the brace fitting hurriedly, apologizing. "I'm so sorry to rush, but I need to teach an exercise class," I said, and limped out the door.

Everything I Needed To Know: Power of One

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In My Fortieth Year . Let's start this series. Except... the title should probably reference my 41st year, not the 40th, if what I learned settled in post-birthday #40. Right? Who out there can do math? ------------------ Such a silly story , but I can't stop thinking about it. Kids at the bus stop. Standing on a corner and crossing the street to get on the bus, every day. Every day crossing the street in front of the bus, backing up when the bus driver yells for them to wait for the safety bar to extend, waiting for the bar, crossing again. Every day. Until the day my husband was out of town and bus stop duty was my turn. I saw the crossing. I scratched my head. I conducted research with the other parents and determined, the next morning, that there was no good reason to stand where everyone was standing. "Kids, we're crossing the road." Parents thanked me. Admitted they didn't know why they were standing where they did.

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In My 40th Year

I'm 41 now, and this past year, I learned a lot. Mostly in the last few months. Call me slow ; it took four decades to figure out some stuff most of you probably already know (about yourselves, or about me). But some of the lessons are quite paradoxical, as I saw once I began scribbling them down. Two sides of the same coin. I had hoped to list out my lessons in a post on December 31 and call it good, but now we're looking at a series, in order to get at all angles. A word on self-awareness: I'm not a fan. At least of the public kind--a part of me is convinced that in the same way that no cashier cards me anymore, and no one is a bit surprised when I tell them my age, you do not care what I learned this year . But another part of me knows that some of what I've finally put together mentally is universal. So that's my only goal here--in this wrap-up and in this blog: relating to you. Hoping to trigger some of these same revelations in you. And a word on Dece mber: B

One Of The Few Times Facebook Would Be Useful

UPDATE: A copy was found! Amazing how difficult this series was to track down. ----------------------------------------- Christmas: I'm buying the kids' toys and thinking I'll surprise them with gifts I know they'll like that weren't on their list. And then it occurred to me that they'd be just as happy, if not happier, if I simply bought the gifts they requested. It's that simple! In the end, they're getting a mix, and I got a lesson: Just ask. And go with what you're told. When some friends were going through a tough time, I figured I'd just ask what would make it better. There was no predicting this answer: Dr. Who. Dr. Who will make it better. These friends have spent months recovering from a crisis, and one thing that's helping is sitting the family down to watch Dr. Who (the newer one, with David Tennnant) together. They finished Season 1 and would really love to start Season 2 , but they can't find it locally, and it's pricey

Please Do This One Thing For Me--and for her, and for them

When I spar with Shari, a friend and trainer at the boxing gym, I can hardly land a clean punch. There's no hitting this woman: she'll block your jab and smack away your right hand, no matter how fast the attack. And then she'll wrap you in a hug and tell you what a great job you did. That's Shari in a nutshell. Life has thrown her a variety of punches, including cancer and a son's disability, but nothing knocks her down, and nothing gets in the way of her concern for others, especially young people. Even before Shari told me some of her many ideas on how she'd like to help people, I could see the natural way she dealt out love, especially the tough kind, to the kids in our gym. She is exactly what they need. Which means she can do a lot of good elsewhere, too, as she's proven time and again. A local initiative called 5x5 night awards up to $5000 for great ideas. I helped Shari write up the idea she's most passionate about: Mothers raising mothers. Expe

I Want To Be A Princess

In the final paragraph of The New Yorker profile of Rita Jenrette, a Texan who married a prince and became Principessa Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, writer Ariel Levy ends with the idea that could the Principessa visit her younger self, much suffering would be spared. She'd tell her, "You're going to be a princess." Royalty can't travel back in time, however, and all any of us can do is look back. The long view of where life went when we were busy living it--this can be reassuring. Sometimes it's not. Three years ago, when I volunteered for the Obama campaign, which met up in a boxing gym, you couldn't have told me that I'd be up in that ring sparring. As I waited for instructions, I looked around and thought, Wow! A boxing gym. Pretty cool. Then I took off with my assigned partner and hung election day reminders on the broken down doors of the nearby neighborhood. Three years ago, while I tried to survive an aerobic kickboxing class, I would have laughe

Larry, George, and Janet

Next month I need to take an exam for work. It's a three-part test: multiple choice questions on exercise and physiological processes; essays on case studies; training my boss who will pretend to be one of the case studies. We were given a preview of the case studies. We're to pick two, but three of them appealed to me. George, who is 40, wants to lose some pounds before a trip next spring. He doesn't like to exercise. Janet is a mom in her 30s and an aerobic queen. She wants to tone the back of her arms, etc. Larry, in his 20s, wants to reduce his body fat from 18% to 14%. He knows his way around the weight room, but never stays consistent in his routine. That night I woke up thinking of Larry. His BMI, that is--and I worried for him. He's healthy! Why is he obsessing over his body fat percentage? Larry was upsetting me. I knew I'd have to choose him. And George. He'd be a nice challenge. I like that he used to play on a basketball rec league--I'd sneak in

It Was A Good Day

My boxing gym won five trophies last night at a local club show. Five wins, five completely different styles: a heavyweight who moved well; a hundred-pounder who danced more than he punched; a young man nobody believed had never fought before; a deaf state champion against a man with arms longer than should be allowable; and a guy who stood looking with me at the bout list, plotting when and how he could get to Burger King and back in time for his turn. I'm pretty sure he was serious. Way to go, MLK!

Oh No

The uniform reaction of all mothers looking in on the final wrestling practice was this: "Ewww." The boys, every last one of them, had their shirts off. They played a kind of flag football with their tops hanging from their bottoms, and it would be the last wrestling activity my son, Simon, would try. Simon is tall, and lining him up according to height for a sparring showdown showed no deference to his lack of athleticism. He stood dangerously close in line to Jack, a 12-year-old who tips the scale past 180; the boy he did end up wrestling the last day, a kid about his height but with something of a gut, proved too heavy. Simon gave him a good fight but a short one, and that was that. He comes by his fear of the sport honestly. Though his group would go on to compete in duals, we didn't push him to do so, as the compromise to try this new sport was taxing enough. On all of us. Mainly me. "I'll follow your exercise plan, Mom," he told me. He figures I'

The Rules of Sustenance

Head over to The Other Journal , of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, to read my essay The Rules of Sustenance. It's a story from my time on staff at a homeless shelter, and one you haven't read here on my blog . Enjoy it, leave lots of comments, and browse the rest of their thoughtful site.

Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier was felled by a short bout with liver cancer. Not by the violence of the heavyweight rounds, the kidney punches, or left hooks to the head. Cancer is what took him down. You never know what's gonna get you. In the end, the obvious danger may not be the worst. I've pasted a letter above my desk. It begins, "Your follow-up mammography examination showed an area that we believe is probably benign (not cancer)." "Probably." You never know what's gonna get you. So what do we do? Step into the ring. Keep fighting.

Getting Rid Of The Children's Pets, One Lonely Creature At A Time (The Video)

Theo, age 8, spent the summer collecting frogs and tadpoles from a nearby creek. With the help of his friend Ethan, who is 9 and can answer any and all questions on amphibians, Theo learned to distinguish leopard frogs from tree frogs, and studied their development daily on our back deck. Theo was so enamored with the whole operation that he wanted to purchase some more exotic strains. We visited a Pets Mart and hovered near a tank until a saleswoman came by. The right saleswoman, I should say; with disheveled hair and wire-frame glasses favoring one ear, this woman was all about the frogs. She hunched forward as if to let out a call that might travel the road back to our creek. My main concern was the amount of upkeep these $30 pets would require. "What do these frogs need, because our frogs from the creek...," I started to say, and immediately realized I had violated a sacred rule: removing the animal from its natural habitat. I tried to play it off. So did she--at first.


While my son stood next to me, a wad of bloody tissue up one nostril, the wrestling coach said, "There's something about facing a kid your size and, even if you lose or get hurt, knowing you can take it." Simon, whose nose was now 1.5 times its normal width, wasn't feeling the love. But I understood. I have come to understand that my week doesn't begin until I've been boxing. I need to wrestle--box--my demons before I feel I've earned my self-esteem for the week. Or maybe I need to be knocked out of my head, both literally and metaphorically, in order to relax and enjoy life. Either way, it works for me. As soon as I can get my knee healed up, I'll be sparring again, because I miss that day-after, on-top-of-the-world sensation. I'm thinking of bringing Simon along so he can see what his mom is made of. All my push toward sports hasn't added up to much, so, as they say in writing, "Show, don't tell."

Best (Worst?) Halloween Story Ever

My children are named Simon and Theo, and not for The Chipmunks, though we acknowledged, even at the second birth, that this connection would be made. One Halloween, we went so far as to dress them as their chipmunk namesakes. I, Amy, was the remaining chipmunk, Alvin. At thrift stores I found long turtlenecks in red, blue and green. For Simon I found black glasses (which would complete a Harry Potter costume a few years later), and for me, a red cap. However, the costumes didn't feel finished with only these suggestive hints toward the characters. I tried shading with brown makeup to highlight chubby chipmunk cheeks, but the look still wasn't complete. Teeth , I thought. The defining feature of a chipmunk is its teeth. Once again I experimented with makeup, thinking I'd black out all but their front two top teeth. The makeup for this was waxy and wouldn't stay stuck. I'll just buy teeth , I thought. I drove to several costume shops and quickly determined that their

The Sacrament of Work

There's an element of vulnerability in each of the jobs I do that sometimes shatters me. The ex-offenders entrust their stories to me, the playwright, to find ways to communicate them to a broader audience . Today I heard stories of stabbings and molestation. And repentance. I am the keeper of these stories. For my book project , I've been given the journals of a woman who died in a car crash. That her former husband would hand me this tall pile is humbling, and to read her private thoughts a sacred act. I met with the man who killed her because he would do anything for this family. He willingly gave me his very difficult story. Molestation. Murder. And forgiveness. At the gym, one of my jobs is to clean exercise equipment. I know so many of the people who use these machines, their habits and schedules, that when I clean, I can picture who I'm cleaning for. I wipe away the sweat and dirt and make it new, for them. A man I didn't know, running on a machine the other nigh

This Pill, Broken For You

I'm reading The New Yorker today and in a theatre review see the name of an actor I once knew. This happens here and there for those of us in the business: You're at the movies, a face appears onscreen, and either you yell out the actor's name right then in your surprise, or else a vague feeling of intimacy sweeps over you, ultimately giving way to the memory of communicating this guy's five-minute pre-show call in the shower. Stage managers spend a lot of time with undressed actors. Throughout the 1990s, I worked in Pittsburgh theaters. For one particular festival, performers were brought in, sometimes with their own stage managers, and this was the case with the actor whose name came up today. With the other shows I'd usually call cues from the booth, but D's stage manager insisted that he sit up there, and that I wasn't really needed. Then he ran up and down the aisles swinging a thurible of incense while chanting. I opted to sit offstage and keep quiet

And The Costume Theme This Year Is...

Image big surprise. blogging through the month and almost done

I Miss Him

Freddie went back to his rightful owners, and there's no longer anyone winking at me as I pass through the living room. Instead, I must contend with these damned sea monkeys, who swish and swirl and mate happily all the live long day. If the sea monkeys are a music video for Rare Earth's I Just Want To Celebrate , Freddie is Philip Glass --the same thing over and over with only the occasional changeup. His winks were among the few movements of his day. A much more manageable approach to life than the sea monkeys'...or is it?

How To Choose Your Kid's Sport, Part 2

Simon on his bike. Can you read the sign he made and pasted onto his back? "My dad made me do this." After writing the first post on how my son and I are similar, and the ways I try to help him find a sport now instead of in his 40s, I realized I was a lot like him as a kid. Never would I have had the wit or chutzpah to make a sign like this, but I certainly didn't take to athletic activity. And what I'm doing now with my son was also tried by my mother: buy the kid some athleticism and grace by enrolling in a class. Mine was ballet. Dear God. The little pink plastic carrier opened at the top, for my leotard, and on the side, near the bottom, to hold my peach silk slippers. I liked the whole contraption. The class I could do without, but I was obedient back then, and did everything I was told. I plied and whatnot, without much flair. Then one day I no longer had to go. Talk of "missing too many classes," "not allowed." For years I referred to this

One Mean Dolphin Sandwich

Music on the way to a massage: Nine Inch Nails Music at the massage: ocean waves/pan flute/dolphins Music on way home from massage: Nine Inch Nails

What I Do With Bananas

As I am unable to reconcile banana carb counts with skin and without*, I choose to go without--which means if I'm packing a banana for my diabetic son to take to school, it must be peeled, then wrapped again. So I make squids. Simon's photo doesn't quite capture both eyes of my giant squid, but you get the idea. I hear he's pretty slimy by lunchtime. Realistic! *Advice on this from you other d-moms would be appreciated. We do 6g per 1-oz unpeeled.

How To Choose A Sport

There are two types of people in the world: those who watch boxing movies and then want to beat someone up, and those who watch them and don't. My family splits down the middle. Simon, 11, is a lot like his mom. He's gentle, and yet you sense a buried fierceness in there. He's strong. At his age, he is unable to harness any of that power, but he's drawn to try. Only to a point. Also like his mother, Simon suffers from attachment issues, and he's not about to give himself completely to anything he enjoys. Disappointment may come, so why get involved in the first place? When I first saw him punch, I knew he loved it. I held the mitts for him here at home and encouraged him to keep going. Nah , he said, and headed back for his book. When he came home from school after a PE class in wrestling, I saw him beam with delight. I got to flip a kid onto the mat! he said. Then he went back to his book. I stopped in to talk to the PE teacher about the wrestling. Among the list

RERUN: How To Get To The Other Side

Hello? Are you there? I've committed to writing a post a day this month. Today, I am full of feeling but out of ideas. Here's an old one that captures some of what I want to say, and thankfully, I've said it already. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The introduction of Roadkill, the armadillo character in the film Rango , is startling: a tire width indentation has cut through his middle, leaving tread tracks, and he struggles for breath. The animation here is more realism than not, and the effect is disturbing. Yet you can't look away, and the view from your seat places you directly into his struggle as he says, "I must get to the other side." The other side, he's heard, is where enlightenment is to be found. He knows this is a metaphor, even; "We all have our journeys to make." Over the course of the film, the lead character Rango, a chameleon, will find this to be true, and when the two ch

Which Creatures Shouldn't Be Together In The Same Room?


I'm Alone In The House With This


Because I Could Get Hit By A Bus

With the insurance paperwork, multiple doctors, a list of prescriptions, school forms and daily tasks, managing a child's type 1 diabetes feels a lot like a part-time job that lasts all day. It's not the only thing you do, but it's something you do all day long, and hopefully, there's a team of at least one working with you. My husband gets cc'ed on any diabetes-related email I write, because he might be the one to get the call from school tomorrow. Any insulin dose change gets written into our log, highlighted with a post-it, and verbally called out to Greg (or virally: You saw the Levemir change tonight, Dear?) This system of cross-referencing at every turn makes this "job" feel like one I did many years ago. As a stage manager in professional theaters, I kept many a prompt book, which contained all the information needed to run a performance. Light cues, actors' blocking, costume notes...all in there. I was groomed in the "hit by a bus" sc

Putting the Personal In Tire Flipping

My left arm will not extend above my head. Yesterday, I couldn't make use of either forearm. I blame the tire flipping. Lately, I've been trying new approaches to my exercise routine. A little P90x here, some basic grunty strength training there. Raw, straightforward lifting no longer does for me what it once did, and though I've lost strength, I don't miss it a bit. I often spend my Y time on power routines, hence the tire flipping. It's only a hundred pounds, so I thought I'd do a 3 minute round. Then another. Then I couldn't use my forearms. After not vomiting, I wondered how it is possible to kick my own butt. Shouldn't it be like tickling--impossible to do to yourself? When I design workouts for my husband, I know to avoid anything he might find tedious. I need to throw in supersets and some crazy stuff no one else in the weight room is doing. That's why it's called personal training--you tailor it to the person. One of my coworkers saw me

Meet Bobby, Frank, Fred and Charlie (RIP)

Just hours after Dottie's departure , we saved these sweet little mice from the jaws of some cagebound rattler. You call 'em feeder mice, we call 'em pets; a buck seventy-five's worth of utter cuteness. (Charlie, seen here in the food dish, died during the night. Ah, but do not grieve for him; he lived a short, eventful life.) (blogging through November but trying not to be like this )

Mr. Rogers Was Right

Here's a reprint of a post from November 2009. Some of the details have changed--I'm now nearly 41, and my dress size keeps shrinking--but the essence of what's here is still on my mind today. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since 1985, English musician and musicologist Clive Wearing has had what neurologist Oliver Sacks calls "the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded": a memory span of mere seconds. Along with the present his past has slipped away as well, including the memory of meeting his wife, Deborah, and falling in love with her. Yet emotional memory provides Clive with a basis to remember Deborah at a fundamental level, as Sacks writes in "The Abyss" ( The New Yorker , September 24, 2007): For many years he failed to recognize Deborah if she chanced to walk past, and even now he cannot say what she looks like unless he is actually looking at her. Her appearance, her voi

Goodbye Dottie

I will be the first to admit that I've used the term "evil" when referring to our bunny. And that maybe on occasion I've let her out to "play" in the backyard until a neighbor knocked on the door to report that "the bunny has escaped." This only happened two times. Maybe three. But I meant it when I told my son that sometimes, when we love someone, we have to let them go. We have to do what's best for them, which may not be what we want. And maybe I didn't bring up the parts about them coming back if they were really yours, etc. Dottie first came home with us about five years ago, while Greg was traveling in Uganda. Internet connections were spotty, and I remember getting out a short email that said, "And by the way, we have a pet." Dottie unofficially became Simon's pet, arriving right when he needed something furry to hug and hold. She stayed in his room at our first apartment in Grand Rapids; I have pictures of him reading

Your Friday Sea Monkey Update

Big mommas: running the place Babies: growing faster than you can say, "But where's its crown?" Stud monkey: expired

In The Stars For Me: A Man

SCORPIO (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21) --You've been looking forward to promoting a certain idea for some time, and today's evolution tells you that the time is now. I had read my horoscope not long after saying this to my coach: "I need a man." While on the heavy bag, a girl approached me. We had been partners last week, and I liked her--tall, thin, peppy, with a pleasant demeanor. She had boxed just a little in Ohio before moving back here. "You ever street fight?" she asked me. "No," I said. "Really?" "Really. Why--have you?" I couldn't quite picture it. "Oh yeah. Twelve, maybe 15 times. You can do anything in a street fight--claw, scratch, pull they hair." "And what's that like?" "It feels good . That's why I took up boxing. Because when I street fight, I make sure I win." Next thing I know the coach is asking me if I can spar the next night. I couldn't. Woulda been with hair-pulling girl.