Saturday, February 8, 2014

SOL: A Bruise

I've got a bruise. You can hardly see it, a light oval stretched across the very top of my hip bone, but it's still tender to the touch three days following the incident. As soon as it happened, I knew I wanted to write about it, but I've associated too much embarrassment with it for the past 72 hours to start. Now, though, I'm feeling a little bit of pride set in. It's the perfect storm to write my slice of life--equal amounts of pride and embarrassment.

This semester, I needed to add one more credit to my load; I decided to go for two of the easy Student Activity courses.

"No sweat," I thought. But these beginning volleyball and self defense classes are harder than I expected. I sweat.

In self defense, we're still learning some basics a couple of weeks into the semester: separation, hits, kicks, etc. Wednesday, we're practicing separation with both arms. (Push off the attackers jaw or hips, then use that momentum to step back with one foot. I'll teach you sometime, if you want. It's empowering.) Our demonstration attackee just went into the MTC that very morning, so the teacher is asking for a volunteer--"a small volunteer," pointing at me and several other classmates. Who knows what kind of attack he'll be demonstrating on me? He hasn't gone easy on the girls who have volunteered earlier. I raise my hand, and I can't help feeling like Katniss as I walk bravely to the front of the room.

He immediately picks me up in a fireman's carry, walking around with me on his shoulder to show the rest of the class what this might look like (like the picture, there, but neither of us are in fatigues, nor am I a man with a buzz cut, he's not carrying a machine gun, nor is there smoke in the room). He moves my arm from across the front of his chest, around his head, and tells me to push off his face. I do so. The other girls are giggling. Then, he says, "Move your hips side to side and try to get off. Create space between us." He sets me down, then without much warning, he's coming at me again. When a man twice my size whom you don't know very well starts yelling, "Come here, you!" and starts to pick you up, adrenaline kicks on a little bit; life's a bit of a blur. As soon as I'm over his shoulder, I start throwing my hips back and forth, and within three seconds my hipbone makes serious contact with the side of his head, right around the ear, and he's on his knees, saying, "Okay, stop. That's good." He looks up at me and the rest of the class, which has tightened the circle around him. "She got me good, just about knocked me out. So, this technique is effective, right? A knocked-out attacker is an easy one to get away from. Find a partner and practice." You can bet I make profuse apologies, but he laughs it off.

Class ends, I'm tying my tennis shoes, and my teacher walks over. "My ear still hurts," he says. I try to apologize again, but he stops me, "It's a compliment! I have never been hit that hard by a girl in my entire life, never been that close to getting knocked out by a girl. I'll have to tell all my classes about this. Nobody who knows me is going to mess with you." He's been teaching this class and others, like Ju-Jitsu and karate, for fifteen years. And I, the wimpy lightweight, was the first to bring him down.

Monday, February 3, 2014

SOL: Avoiding Questions

Throughout the past couple of weeks, I have read several blog and Facebook posts about the insensitive questions people ask. As an individual who spends a significant amount of my thought-energy on avoiding making people feel uncomfortable, I take these advice-giving posts very seriously: basically, be very careful about what you say to someone who is married, single, dating, engaged, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, a parent, childless, religious, atheist, conservative, liberal, feminist, masculinist, etc., etc., etc.

I still believe it is very important to consider the implications of the words you say and the questions you ask.

After many years of feeling this way and acting accordingly, though, this belief has translated into avoiding any type of question which could make any person feel uncomfortable in any way. Consequently, I know a lot of very surface-level facts about the people I care about, and very little about the soul that lives underneath.

This weekend, Michael and I hung out with two of his sisters and some other friends from their high-school days. Toward the end of our laughter-filled evening at Blue Lemon, Ronnie said, "Aly, I don't know you very well. I would like to change that," and started asking me questions. They were hardly deep questions--mostly, "If you came home and had no homework, what would you do?" (Note to self: I need some hobbies other than reading. I couldn't answer that question. But that's a post for another time.) and "Marry, date, or dump: Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth"-- but it got me thinking. At some point I'm going to have to stop being so worried about offending someone that I can actually get words out of my mouth and start building up the relationships I've let go of because of my fears. All weekend I found myself nearly asking more personal questions, then holding them back. It's interesting how questions bring about connections; both are things I've been missing.