Sunday, May 1, 2022

Recap of a Busy, but Good, Day

Today, I'm beat... it's the sort of day when one hesitates between reaching for the aspirin bottle or the Tullamore Dew bottle.  I can't complain, yesterday was a really good day.  I worked the graveyard shift, then returned home, where I was able to nap for an hour before heading to my volunteer coaching gig.

It was nice to see my friends and colleagues, most of whom I've known for many years. The highlight of the morning was seeing that one of my favorite kids in the program had been promoted to counselor, a member of the team that actually runs the program, herding the students from class to class, making sure we coaches adhere to class times, and occasional escort a kid or a group of kids to the bathrooms.  This young lady disappeared from the program for a couple of years while she fought cancer, and beat it soundly.  Her younger sister is one of our best students, and when she arrived, their parents told us about big sis being in the hospital...  I have nothing but admiration for this brave young lady, who battled a scourge that no child should have to face.  Words being inadequate tools on some occasions, I greeted her with, "Welcome to Team Grownups!"

My great and good friend Frenchy, who took my profile picture in the dojo, was with me, and with the vaccines and boosters, we were able to dispense with the social distancing policies which made grappling impossible for the last two years.  I had brought a portable crash pad with me, so I spent part of each class throwing our students with the major hip throw O Goshi, which is the friendliest throw for gi-free fighting.  It's important for them to feel how a throw works, and how to land properly.  As I was throwing them, the mantra of bad parents came unbidden to my mind: "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you."  Yeah, those kids fell once, except for the adventurous ones who insisted I throw them a second time... they bounced back up and, yes, some of them requested a second trip through the air.  Me?  I threw sixty kids over the course of three hours... I'll be feeling it all the doo-dah day.

I managed to pick up a self-appointed Nemesis as well, a girl who appears to be seven.  She told us that she takes judo classes elsewhere on Mondays, following up with an ominous "I want to fight you."  I told her that we had to get through basic instruction for less advanced students, but she was insistent: "I want to fight you."  I told her that she should save that attitude for the 2036 Summer Games, and I was only half-joking. Needless to say, I was an instant fan.

After the athletic program, I headed over to my friend Kid's house for a cookout, a celebration after his sons's first Little League baseball game.  My friend J-Co came down from Boston to join in the festivities, as did Poor Scott, who Kid and J-Co worked with as teenagers.  For the record, I went to high school with these guys, and consider them family.  To add to the family atmosphere, Kid's parents joined us, ensuring that we ate well by bringing some gorgeous peppers and zucchini to throw on the grill.  Kid's mom also took on the project of oven-roasting a couple of trays of chickpeas, spiced with salt, cumin, and paprika... ceci nuts, in the vernacular of my grandfather's people.

In the course of our banter, Kid mentioned that he had an old dryer in the basement which, someday, had to be removed.  I announced, "I've had enough beer to feel valiant, but not enough to be impaired.  LET'S GET THIS DONE!"  No injuries were sustained in the successful moving of this dryer, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling the aftermath of this exertion, as well as the exertion from beating up five dozen kids.  I'm happy to say that I felt good enough yesterday afternoon to move the darn thing in the first place.

We hung out for about seven hours, joking around while enjoying a multi-course though casual feast, and basking in the conviviality of an extended family.  I had to call it an evening then so I could go home and sleep for several hours before going back to work another midnight shift.  Three hours was sufficient, though I put an extra spoonful of coffee in the French press.

J-Co's plan is to depart for Boston after 8AM, so we made plans to meet for breakfast after I finish my shift at 7AM.  There are leftovers which would be great in a frittata or omelet, and some house-made chorizo from a Mexican-American market not to far from my place.  It's not very often that we can all get together, so putting off sleep for an additional hour is a small price to pay... and pay that price I shall, say I as I eye that aspirin bottle.

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