Saturday, January 08, 2005

Orange Belt

It's a funny thing about tests, ya know. For my yellow belt, I felt nervous as all get-out, worried about it so much that I could barely sleep the night before. Then, I nailed the thing. I was happy and exhausted afterward, pleased to have done well, proud of mastering the first basics of Shaolin.

Today I tested for orange belt. Man, felt like I sucked. What happened to the skills, the next tiny portion of knowlege, that I'd been working on so hard for these past couple of months? I knew the stuff, my muscles & my nerves & my brain had all their bits, but just couldn't seem to work together today. I stumbled. I hesitated. I was sloppy. The test felt like it went on and on and on (though I think it did not go on for very much longer than the first one) and it felt like drowning. Just let me get through this, I kept telling myself. I'll do better next time. I'll get another chance to do this right. Just keep going. Hold together. Never quit.

Well, I passed. I wasn't sure I would, but I did. I'm not so pleased and happy about this one, though. Everyone has an off day and today was certainly one for me. I didn't like how that felt, so just a reason to work harder, I guess.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New York

Spent New Year's in New York City, visiting with Amazon sisters. The trip started off badly. I am a big old flying coward, and decided on the traditional Hit The Airport Bar (Hard) technique of calming my midflight nerves. This was a mistake. I was stinking drunk on the plane & I don't do 'stinking drunk' so well anymore, so I felt more sick than mellow. Then, the plane was to land & refuel in Nashville, but that airport was fogged in, so after circling for about an hour and a half, we diverted to Louisville. We weren't allowed off the plane (since this particular airline doesn't fly out of Louisville) and instead had to sit on the tarmac for two and a half hours before the fog in Tennessee finally lifted enough for us to return to Nashville, let off and take on more passengers, and proceed to LaGuardia. Sheesh. I was still kinda green around the gills when Tee picked me up at the airport, and glad to be off that damn plane. Tee laughed at me & my extreme lack of luggage. For a five day visit, I had one small carry-on and my camera. Heh, I believe in traveling light.

Linda and Diane arrived a few hours later, and I rested back at home when Tee went to pick them up, and was feeling a little better by the time everyone was together. So the trip was improving after an inauspicious start :)

The weather in New York was surprisingly good. It was warm enough for the snow that fell a few days ago was mostly melted. It even got up in the fifties some days, so it certainly wasn't the beastly temps I was expecting.

This was a pretty low-key visit, mostly just hanging out and being together, with two major events planned. The first was we would do the whole New Year's Eve in Times Square thing. The second was going to the Cowboys-Giants game at the Meadowlands on January 2nd. Trina would be playing on the New York Sharks squad as part of a halftime exhibition scrimmage.

So as New Year's Eve rolled around, we pile on the train to ride from Long Island to Manhattan, laughing and giggling and the out-of-towners (me and Linda and Diane) carrying on like the geeky tourists we are and the natives (Tee and Trina) mocking us. Good times. We got to Times Square before sundown and let me tell you, it was already a madhouse. NYPD had started blocking off streets, making it hard to move around. We went in circles for a while trying to get to Rockerfeller Plaza (I wanted to photograph the ice rink & the statue there) but couldn't get to it, we weren't allowed to walk down the streets we needed to get there. We gave up after a while, and wandered down to the main part of Times Square you see on the television. The sun was setting, it was around five p.m., the streets were getting packed ... you could still move around, they weren't yet jammed like they would be in a few hours, but you were consistently jostled anywhere you went ... and standing around for seven hours in a sea of drunken humanity suddenly seemed like not such a good idea. I have a bad knee, Linda has a bad ankle, and I think Tee gets pretty grumpy at crowds, especially large stupid ones. (Maybe I'm projecting here and it's me that gets grumpy. LOL.) We decided to bail and head down to the Village, to get dinner and then spend the evening at one of the local drinking establishments. This plan turned out to be much better. We ate at Cowgirl and then walked down to Rubyfruit, where we all got drunk as lords. We had a great time being the loud table ordering a zillion Cosmos, wearing silly hats, making drunk phone calls to our Amazon sisters ;) I'm afraid that Diane had a bit too much to drink -- a relative thing at this point, but she needed the most assistance walking -- and taking this into account, we timed our return to Long Island very well, getting on the train BEFORE the one that's jam-packed with revellers going home. We had to carry her off the train when we got to our stop while Tee held the door open with her body, glaring knives at the conductor, but we got our butts safely home and in bed, ready to nurse the wicked hangovers that were sure to come the next day.

New Year's Day was watching football & a little hair of the dog, you know, the typical thing. It was pretty funny, I thought -- midday, on our third televised game or so, I looked around the room and realised I was the only one who was awake, everyone else was sacked out on the various couches and recliners. Tee made a fabulous dinner to celebrate New Year's Day, and a few more friends came over for a festive little get-together. And Tee is a woman who knows her wine. (grin) We went downstairs to admire Tee's project bike after dinner, she's building a bobber out of an old Kawa. Lotta work to be done, the project's just getting started. It's going to look supremely cool when she finishes.

Next day was game day. Sharks were playing at halftime of the Cowboys vs Giants, so Trina was nervous, as you would expect. We trekked down to Meadowlands Stadium ... ha, that's the New Jersey scenery I remember ... and it turns out our seats were pretty damn good, we were in the first row of the mezzanine. Neither the 'Boys or the Giants were playing terribly well, but it was the final game of the season and both teams were out of the playoffs, so it was a pride/rivalry game anyway. Eli Manning was still looking for his first NFL win, but stunk it up the first half. The crowd was grumbling and booed him a little. Heh. Halftime, the NFL players quit the field and the Sharks hustled on, and ran a scrimmage on half of the field ... unfortunately, they were down by the end zone that was farther away from us, but we still had a great view. Trina got in for a few plays; I remember her coming in on defense for a third-down play and she flat-out sprinted to get to the corner from the other sideline. We laughed and cheered her on -- fastest player on the field! or at least the one who was showing the most motor! LOL. I listened to the crowd comments around me. A lot of folks were ignoring the halftime display but I heard a few "hey, check this out"s and "wow, those are girls?" from the masses. During the third quarter, Trina showed up at our seats still dressed in her game pants but carrying her helmet pads & jersey, and watched the rest of the game with us. In the stands, and also on the way back to the car in the parking lot, she got quite a few "Good game, Sharks" comments, so some people were paying attention, I guess. I hope the Sharks win some new fans with their exhibition. Manning pulled out his first win, by the way, with a last minute drive to beat the 'Boys. It was kinda fun to see Jerry Jones get roundly booed by the crowd, too.

Flew home the next day (today), this time with no delays or incidents, and also without massive amounts of alcohol. :)

Thank you Tee and Trina for your hospitality! It is so very appreciated!