Monday, January 29, 2007

Vacation Countdown, Awkward Hangtime

4 days until I finally grab some much needed vacation time. Not a big, long vacation, mind you, but a solid 6 days away, not working, not spending each 24 hour period of the day running from the house to the gym to the office to the house to the dojang to the store to the house, lather and rinse and repeat as needed. That's pretty much been the past 4-6 weeks. Definitely getting a bit frayed around the edges by all the activity.

We'll be heading to Angel Fire, NM for a long weekend of skiing. 800 or so miles of driving each way, with 4 days of resort time sandwiched in the middle. Now, I've never skied before, nor have the kids. Christine has, but her last ski trip was sometime around the same time we started dating back in high school, so let's say she hasn't skied in 20+ years. In other words for all intents and purposes she's never skied before either. Should make for a fairly exciting and adventurous week, to say the least. I fully expect to be sore and bruised in all sorts of new and exciting places when I return. I just hope there are no significant injuries to remember the week by.

It's funny: I'm not really sure why we're going skiing, aside from wanting to try something new and different with the kids. Neither Christine nor I are exactly what you'd call "cold weather people," and while the kids seem to relish the idea of getting to romp around in the snow, they've never really had to deal with Real Serious Cold before so they really don't know what they're in for.

Personally, much as I am looking forward to seeing some mountains and learning something new I was kinda hoping we'd settle on something a little less adventurous, like a short cruise. Someplace warm. Beaches, shorts, and frosty cold drinks. I HATE being cold. Cold hurts. It makes my skin dry out and itch like crazy, and my back tends to tighten up and ache constantly when I'm cold for prolonged periods of time. Thanks to the generosity of family and friends we've laid our hands on lots of high-quality cold weather gear so we'll be thoroughly insulated, if nothing else. But I can't help but get the feeling that by halfway through the third day of skiing I'll be way more interested in hanging out by the fireplace or soaking in the spa back at the lodge.

Of course, I could be wrong. We'll see.


The week and weekend was ... interesting. I mean, it was good, but it had some odd notes mixed in with some great parts. Following my self-doubt dithering early in the week I had some really great training sessions and came away from the dojang with my confidence nicely restored. I managed to do some fairly decent sparring, and some of the techniques we were working on played to my strengths. Which include, well, strength: what I currently lack in finesse and relaxation I more than make up for with brute force and persistence. We did a bunch of hand technique work with pads one night last week and by the time we were finished my partner could barely lift his arms. Not that I was trying to hurt him or anything, but I can hit pretty darn hard, and even with pads you start getting sore and fatigued given enough impact. So, that was satisfying and helped close out the week on a high note.

And the kids had a piano recital on Friday night, and did very well. And family class on Saturday morning was exhausting, and fun, and a big sweaty mess -- the dojang was quite warm, and Mr. Vasquez put us through the red belt test line drills before doing some team sparring to wrap things up. I was drenched, but had a blast. Plus I finally managed to get my hands on a Nintendo DS, after weeks of searching. And we had Master Nunan and Pennie over for dinner on Saturday night, which was a lot of fun coupled with a pretty darn good meal (if I do say so myself -- penne with a vodka tomato cream sauce topped with chilled smoked salmon). And finally ice cream cake and games at my brother's place for his birthday. All in all a good weekend, with lots of fun and good company.

But I also had a couple of odd moments, where I realized -- in spite of how far I've come along on this front already, thanks to my training -- just how guarded I can still be around people. I'm not talking about people I know but don't really let get close -- you know, work friends, the random neighbor, casual social acquaintances, "arm's length friends," and so on. Those folks I can handle without the slightest problem. It wears me out, but I don't spend much time thinking about (or caring particularly) what they think of me. I'm talking about people with whom I've clicked, people who I want to get closer with. In this particular case it was dinners with the Nunans, or in particular, my hang-time with Master Nunan while our wives were doing some Mary Kay cosmetics stuff.

Now, it's not that it was not "good" time -- we chatted up a storm, got some good jokes flying, and had ourselves a fine time, but I realized later that I felt kind of awkward and didn't really start to relax until the women joined us and we sat down to dinner. Once I had Christine around, I felt more confident and finally really relaxed and let my guard down. And once I did, things got really interesting -- lots of deeper discussion about far more interesting and personal stuff. Religion, politics, dojang drama, family histories, all sorts of stuff that, when it was just he and I, earlier, I couldn't bring myself to start in on.

Once I realized just how stiff I was earlier in the evening I made a sort of off-hand comment about how it can be hard for me to get myself chatting sometimes, to try to let them know that I may have seemed a bit off-kilter earlier and didn't want them to feel put-off by it, and the rest of the evening certainly went swimmingly (including one unexpectedly hysterical moment involving a toy rubber frog and an empty beer bottle that had me literally gasping for air, tears streaming down my face and sides aching from laughter). Talking with Christine about it later I just had to laugh. I sometimes I forget just how much of a wall I built around myself over the past 10 or so years, and I find I'm kinds of stunted in social situations where I'm actually personally invested, where I actually care what the people think of me. Walls are great at keeping unwanted people out, but they do a great job of locking you in as well. And even when you decide to knock them down it can take a little while before enough of the rubble has been cleared out to allow quick and easy passage. Regardless, progress is being made on the demolition.

Damn shame they couldn't have swung the cash to join us in Angel Fire -- I bet that would have been a blast. Meh. Maybe next time.


So the remainder of the week is busy as hell. Work work work, with a seemingly endless cavalcade of school meetings and award ceremonies jammed in before Friday to keep our evening packed solid. I think I've worked out a schedule that will enable me to train tomorrow night, but otherwise dojang time will be severely limited this week. That's a bit disappointing, but nothing to be worried over -- I've got a solid 2 months until the next test, have already learned my new form and 2 new one steps, and have started getting a handle on my new required wrist grabs as well. They're all far from perfect, but I've certainly got ample time to get them all polished and shiny before test time. So, missing a week of training time isn't going to present any insurmountable obstacles to progress or anything like that. But still, I'm gonna miss having that time on the mat.

Mood: Counting the hours
Now Playing: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, "F# A# oo"

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