The Walls of Jericho
You know what I’ve realized?
I wish that none of you who knew me in person read my blog. For those of you who have never met me, who have never hung out with me, it’s fine. Because as a stranger, I can tell you anything. But for everyone else?
I find it’s cheating that you get to know what’s going on or what’s on my mind and that we have this relationship where I don’t get to know anything about you. I’ve always written online for myself, so that I can find myself, and not so any of you can know me. The strangers along the ride make no difference to me.
But for those of you who I do know and who I hold dear, I resent the fact that you’re privy to my thoughts, and I resent that here where I should be able to record all things about my life, and figure out things for myself, I find myself holding back because this place isn’t secret anymore. And for all the directness and honesty that I’ve apparently come to be known for, I remind you that I still need to have my secrets. From who? Who knows. I don’t say this because I’m trying to sound mysterious– but there are simply things that are none of your business.
Maybe you could do me a favor and just not read anymore.
Lets talk in person where you can also talk.
“What’s with your hand?” I was asked at RsM Saturday. My left hand was wrapped in tape, and my right hand’s fourth and fifth fingers were bound at the second knuckles. The tape on my right hands’ fingers was turning black on the inside from friction with my badminton racket’s grip. My thumb was starting to get sore too since it’d been a while since I’d handled a racket– and as a 2U G5 (extra heavy, smallest grip) my MP77 in quite the hammer to be handling for three hours. Surprisingly, I did really well; 16 wins and three losses! Although the competition wasn’t so fierce, I still give myself a pat on the back for my first day on the courts in over a month.
By the end of the night, my legs were totally gone and I’d just lost a game of doubles because of my lack of mobility, because I couldn’t chase after the birds. I decided upon a rather ugly strategy that worked pretty well, since my mobility was seriously comprimised. I was playing some lower level opponents, so it worked out– took out an old trick I’d learned from an oppponent in my early days of YMCA, called the “Sharingan Smash Cutter.” It’s similar to the professionally used techniques of “flattening the smash” with one big difference– instead of waiting for a smash in a stationary deffensive position, you read the movements of the opponent, and, upon deciding that your opponent’s intent is to smash, you not only counter the smash with a hard drive or smash of your own, but you lunge into it to cut off the distance. A Smash Cutter is so named because it “cuts” (actively and agressively intercepting, rather than deffending) and the Sharingan element comes from Naruto, because you need to be able to see the smash coming way in advance based on your opponent.
The person who used to absue this technique against the beginners back when I was at the YMCA used to call this technique “Chidori.”
Well, it just so happened that the people I was playing against weren’t that strong as opponents, but they were killing me on mobility. What I needed was some way to make them hit within my reach, because I was certain that tactically speaking, they were only actually making me move around the court because it was standard procedure. They didn’t know my legs were tired, at least not with as much certainty that I did. My partner though knew that I was hurting, because I told him that I was having trouble, and that he’d have to make the saves. On one level, letting your partner know when you’re in trouble is good– but it can be bad for morale, and I could see his performance dipping a lot.
Had two goals to it. First of all, the first was to negate the mobility issue by forcing the opponent to hit the bird where I wanted it. Secondly, to raise my partner’s morale. You might think that scoring some points would be enough, but simply getting to the bird and playing deffensively isn’t enough for a real morale boost– you need to let your partner know “We’re going to fuck these guys up.”
The Smash Cutter seemed like the best tool for the job.
Unfortunately, because my partner had in the previous round hit me in the eye by accident when he whipped a bird backwards at me (yes, I know, what’re the chances) I was actually having a bit of a distracting situation with my dominant eye. I could still see, but I was constnatly tearing up and it was always itchy and demanded rubbing. So, I didn’t really have a Sharingan.
So the Smash Cutter was modified to be less of a counter, and more of an ambush.
My basic setup was this– whenever I got the bird and I was in a midcourt or rear court situation, I’d use a high deffensive clear to their 3/4 court range. 3/4 court range is most people’s limit range for smashing. Really exceptional players can smash effectively from their rearcourt, but most people don’t, and if they aren’t good and they try, I don’t care about those kinds of attacks since they’re easy to take. Everyone smashes if they can in the forecourt, and most people smash in midcourt. But 3/4 of the way to their backcourt? It’s the limit. To a player that knows his abilities, a 3/4 court smash is the ‘minimum safe distance’ to performing a threatening smash.
So I baited them. I threw them a straight 3/4 smash that they would have time to run to and get a full swing in without being off balance. The point is, I had to make it easy for them, I had to in fact make it ideal for them, otherwise they wouldn’t take the bait. They would wind up, and while they were winding up, I’d start walking quickly to the forecourt with my racket up, ready to use a counterdrive or a countersmash, and ready to rush the bird as soon as I was sure it was on a low trajectory. My point is, if anticipating the smash with my eyes wasn’t enough, then it would have to be enough that I could invite the smash. Once you know what’s coming and you set yourself up in the right way, against equal or lessor opponents a counter is easy.
On court, it appears to be a lot more impressive than it is. It’s really not hard to do– it just takes a bit of confidence in the way you walk into smashes, and the nice side effect is that the opponent is wondering “how the hell does he just walk into a smash?” (literally walking) and your partner is thinking “he’s got it back!”
In reality, it’s easy to do, you just have to sell the show.
In an ideal scenario, your opponent takes your walking into the smash and using a smash cutter as a fluke, so they try it again. So, you have to give and take– let them score a point every now and then, but most of the time, go for it and make sure they know who’s boss.
My left hand was wrapping in tape because Friday was Numac.
Before Numac, I’d spent another 4 hours keeping my grandfather company while everyone else was at work, and that took a lot of effort because my sleep rotation was totally off still. I’d been visiting him everday since he’d been hospitalized, either before or after work. I’d lost some of the buzz from the night before, but I did cling to the memory and the prospect that that was just the first of many other similar outings.
I found out that day that my grandfather’s lungs are slightly destroyed because of a medication that he’s been taking for his heart for the past 5-6 years. That’s why he’s in the hospital– for the past few weeks, he’s been having a lot of difficulty breathing, as if he had the cardiovvascular endurance of someone breathing through a straw. It’s recently been discovered that he could’ve taken a similar drug without that destructive side effect. It might’ve been because the doctor 5-6 years ago was doing research for particular drugs, so it’s prescription might’ve been biased. Basically… someone took an unnecessary chacne with my grandfather. And that makes me feel… well. You guess.
And not just because it’s my grandfather. I guess at the end of a 7 day stint of overnights, at a hospital, you really need to feel at the end of it that you’ve done some good to accept that you’re going to get a few days off and then get back in there. But then you find out that mistakes happen, or, worse, that sometimes, they’re not mistakes, and… and…
I joke all the time about all the stupid shit that goes on at work but it’s only funny because it’s terrible, and because it’s not your own family.
Friday night was Numac.
My cousin, who I was so psyched about coming, didn’t show up, and that kinda stressed me out for several reasons which I’ll not get into here or now.
As far as Numac goes, ever since we worked out a deal with the owner of the gym so that we could use it for cheaper, Terminator and I haven’t really cared so much about running after people trying to get higher attendence. If anything, the smaller groups of 5 or so people at a time are a lot more comfortable to train continuously for space issues. I think at first, Numac was a lot about getting a lot of people in, it had that community element to it. In the same way that RsM started out, it was about getting in the initial numbers to make the place financially viable. Now that Numac’s books are balanced though with the new rental plan, it’s down to business– no more running after people for attendance. Now it’s more personal, it’s about individual goals and aspirations, because Terminator and I are getting into that training groove that we had back in college. Yesterday was the first day that we started going through boxing drills instead of just sparring all the time, and it marks a significant change of direction as far as our activities at Numac go. Through the past few months, we’ve all just been getting back into the spirit of the fighting, but now that the energy is flowing, it’s about focus and direction. It’s not just about playing around anymore, we’re taking this more seriously by working on refining technique and physical condition. We even discussed how in the past weeks we’ve even modified our diets. I hadn’t mentioned it Saturday, but he’d been putting himself on a similar program with the goal of converting from “fatty” to “lean” to “dense” in parallel to my own project.
My left hand’s middle finger knucke is bruised and the skin over my knucles is tender from all the punch drills we were doing on the pads. I was wearing gloves, but the gloves aren’t tight and I had forgotten to bring my wraps with me. If you don’t wear wraps or tape up your hands, a lot of the beating on your knuckles will start to show some wear and tear. Right hand is fine (the left hand’s jab is the bread and butter of the combos, so it sees a lot more action) but my last two fingers are still a bit sore from grappling.
Regardless, I felt great after Numac. It was just a really productive workout.
I’m going to be moving in with Terminator at the end of the month, and the more I think about it, it’s been great that we came to know eachother. Fittingly enough, we first met through Fightnights. It reaffirms my theory that if friends are to remain friends, at a certain point it comes down to how many passions they either keep in common, or the new ones they find, otherwise, they drift apart.
Saturday morning, I woke up with tiredness in both of my quads, a tenderness in my left hand, and strain on my left arm’s bicep (from arm bars) and the muscles of my neck from a suplex that I wasn’t able to guard against. My foot problem wasn’t as bad as usual– I think we’ll have to chalk that one up to wear and tear, that’s never going to heal up to 100%, but it’s been much better than in the passing weeks.
After badminton, my legs were completely gone and though my neck muscles have loosened up a bit, both of my shoulders are hurting now.
I finished work at 8am. I’d been at the Children’s Hospital since about midnight, and it was my 7th day working in a row.
After work, I went to visit my grandfather at the General Hospital. I stayed there until about 11pm. I was starting to fall unconscious from fatigue though so I biked down the mountain, stopped by the bank, handled some investment crap and then went home.
I took some pictures of the hospital. I was looking them over when I got home. The hospital pictures themselves invoke nothing in me– because I don’t know the General enough to know what it normally looks or feels like, and my mind had already put out the feelings I felt while I was there. None of those pictures had anyone in them. For the sake of privacy, you know? I don’t know those people, it doesn’t seem lawful that I should be snapping pictures of them covertly.
But there was only person I did know was in that hospital. My grandfather. I took pictures of him and…
when I was looking over them, when I got home, I wanted to choke. While I’m in the hospital with him, or with family members, you’d never see me do it; because I am in the position that I’m in, and I have responsibilities. But when I got home, I had the whole place to myself, and I had to get out of bed and walk around because I felt … I was choking. I wanted to delete them.
Because I know what my grandfather normally looks like, and those pictures were bullshit. They were fucking bullshit.
I didn’t erase them though.
I finally fell asleep at around 2pm. I woke up again at about 5:45 and was late to go to an RsM meeting.
It’d been a long time since I’d been a my badminton club, much less hung out with people from RsM. This wasn’t exactly a social call– we were all there, the ‘board members,’ to decide if we wanted to keep the club running for another year, since our contract with the gym was up. I put on my game face because frankly, I hadn’t slept much and I just wasn’t in a good mood, which was all the more reason to act normal despite the seriousness of the matters at hand. In the end, it was decided that we would keep RsM running.
A lot of good ideas came up– and surprisngly, a lot of them came from Jonathan. I guess I thought it was surprising because he was one of the youngest members of our little board of directors… but in another way, I find it unsurprising, because since years ago, I was telling him that he had what it took. He’s a guy with passion and in the first years of the Lakeshore Badminton Association (LBA) league wars, he’d demonstrated so much dedication and responsibilty for our teams that I suggested over and over that he should captain one of them. He was reluctant at first, but eventually he did. He later started working as an assistant coach at the CEGEP where RsM was hosted, and later turned into their head coach. Though next year, he’s retiring as an LBA team captain (too much work, and too little rewards) he’s more than brought a lot of stuff too the table at the RsM meeting. He’d actually brought a lot more future minded ideas to the table than the older folks, including myself, such as the implementation of the ‘clothespin system’ in half our courts as well as the organization of an RsM tournament. I think the board members were mostly thinking about finances and keeping things status quo– but Jonathan’s ideas were different from their in that he wanted to turn RsM in the direction of attracting not just the strong players, but the beinners out there as well.
I strongly voiced my support for a lot of his ideas because, although I have no guarantees that they’ll work, I think that that kind of progressive minded, and especially community oriented, thinking is what has been RsM’s persevring virtue.
At 8pm, after the RsM meeting, I bolted for Tokebis to meet up with some friends who I’d arranged to have dinner out with. I was feeling pretty optimistic about the results of the RsM meeting, so I was now begining to think that maybe the night wouldn’t be so bad after all. I had a pretty good lineup setup: Paladin, Nimbus, MaoMao, and SiB. Rawda couldn’t make it because she was sick again, unfortunately. At first, I was annoyed when SiB at the last minute text messaged me that he was bringing 6 coworkers with him. It just wasn’t part of the plan. But, just like how bad things happen unexpectedly, so too do good things. Among his coworkers were Ta and Karren, who are fun people. I didn’t really get to speak with the rest of them, because the table of 12 kind of got divided into “SiB and his coworkers’ side” and “Everyone else,” but at least Ta and SiB migrated around the table to come and bridge the gaps.
Later on, at about midnight, Ta decided that we’d go out to a noraebang
I was like…. what?
Half because my eyes lit up at the idea, and half because it was already midnight and I was getting pretty freaking tired.
Not only that but Nimbus and Paladin didn’t seem to keen on the idea.
Well, one thing lead to another, and we all spent the next 3 hours at the noraebang.
I don’t really know what to say about the noraebang except that it was a lot of fun.
If felt like a fitting conclusion to 7 days of silence.