On Self Defense and Being Awkward

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A* has intimidated my entire grade since we were in our early teens. He’s tall, broad, staring and deep-voiced. One might think his stutter could even out the playing field a bit, but it simply gives him an additional edge: it’s ominous.

When his legs were hurt this summer, my friend and I wanted to go visit him in the hospital to be nice and show we cared. But what do you bring with you to visit someone you don’t really know? I had no clue as to what to bring, say or do. So I went with what I know: writing. I wrote him a card. Damn that stupid card.

We got there and instantly felt out of place, because his friends were there and he didn’t really know us that well. And we were intimidated. We tried to stick as close to the wall as possible to leave room for the people he actually liked to be near him. We kind of wanted to leave, but we were dependent on busses to get home and we didn’t want to wait outside the hospital for forever. So we stood, awkwardly, praying we disappeared into the background.

Finally, an hour later, it was time to go catch our bus. But I was still holding the letter that I’d taken out of my bag as we’d entered, and had since clasped in my clammy claws of hands. Eventually I said, “Where can I put this?” and he said, “Here, you can give it to me.” I passed it to him, wanting to snatch it back and burn it.

Months later, I was sitting in the school lobby and looked up to see him standing next to me. Standing. I squeaked out “hi!” (Intimidated).

“Hey. How are you?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. You’re walking!”

“Limping,” he corrected, and thus ended our interaction.

After that, they told us in class to bring our gym clothing for the next day, because A was going to teach us some self-defense. A few weeks before there had been an incident with a knife outside our school that ended, thankfully, with no injuries, but with an injured sense of security.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to participate fully, I decided to at least dress the part. I might stand out because of everything else, but I refuse to stick out because of my clothing. So I come in my t-shirt, leggings and sneakers, and slowly take in that everyone else on the field is dressed normally. So much for that.

I also knew that I would have to let A and the other instructor know in advance that I wouldn’t be taking part in everything and I would be more of an observer. In theory, that part shouldn’t have been so bad.

Except that I miscalculated how far away they were from me. I started off at my normal walking pace, which I wouldn’t call slow but also can’t categorize as fast. If they hadn’t looked up I would have been fine. I would have had my time to collect my thoughts and call out to them in my own time. But they looked up, and saw me coming from a distance. They halted their conversation and focused on watching me approach them. Let me stress this: they were just standing there, watching me walk to them. Eye contact? Yeah, there was some of that. Awkward eye contact? Yeah, heaps of that. I kept walking and walking and walking and it felt like I might never reach them.

Then came the dilemma: do I speed up, now that they see me coming? I mean, these hulks of men might get impatient and why would I want to add fire to their wrath? But I decided to stick to my original pace, feeling that that might exude a sense of calm and normalcy about my gait. Once I was within earshot, one of them called out, “Hi.”

“Hi,” I said. Steady breaths. I didn’t feel as short as I thought I would, but that didn’t improve things much. “So here’s the thing I have health problems and I can’t participate in everything but it’s okay I came to watch and I’ll do what I can and it will all be fine so yeah thanks.” And breathe.

“Okay.”

Okay. So, I guess I leave now… right? I said what I came to say, but they’re still looking at me. Deciding once again that consistency is best, I turn around walk away from them at my steady pace, except I now feel their eyes on my back (or butt? *Nervously tugs down the hem of her T-shirt*).

Did he read my card? As the thought occurs to me during my time-consuming departure from them, I’m almost sure they can see my blush through the back of my head. He never said anything. I never said anything. Did he read it? Does he think I’m stupid? Am I stupid?

Uh oh, hell no, how do I stop these thoughts? Well, having to turn around and face them as they called us to attention was probably not the best way. Turns out that they were following me, about five paces behind me (of course).

The value of the self-defense that I learned most probably outweighs the discomfort I felt for a few hours, and will likely stick with me for much longer, so I’m going with positivity for this case.

Until the next time I cross paths with A….

Ella

Song Quote:

And the only solution was to stand and fight, and my body was bruised and I was set alight. -If Only For A Night, Florence and the Machine

*Want to guess what A is short for? Leave it in the comments, and get creative!

The Humorous Side

For quite a while now, I’ve been trying to find something humorous in every situation I’m in. It comes pretty naturally to me, in most situations at least. For example, I always laugh when doctors want to listen to me breathe, or feel my stomach. Something about those two requests that they utter makes me laugh, and I try to contain it, because it’s a little weird, but now I’m embracing it.

I’ve had an interesting couple of days. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that last week was interesting too, and it seems to be becoming a theme. I’m embracing that too. Sort of.

I hate math. That said, I take it super seriously in school. My teacher has this schtick where he’s convinced that we won’t be able to finish all the material we need for the exam at the end of the year on time. Therefore, he wants us to come in on our day off school to study for four hours (that’s 240 minutes) in a row, so that we can be ready for the exam. Now obviously this is very complicated and upsetting for us because we have a day off for a reason and we don’t want to spend it doing math. We’ll get back to this later.

I was doing my homework the other day, and there was this question that I couldn’t get, so I went to my sister and asked for help (she’s studying computer engineering). She (and her friend, who happened to be there) figured it out, then taught me a certain technique we haven’t learnt yet, but that the question seemed to require. After that, I called my teacher and told him about it, but he was adamant that it could work the way he had taught us.

Okay.

In our next class, it turns out that every single student couldn’t answer that question, so he starts doing it on the board. Then he stops… falters…. “I’ll get back to you on that one.”

Okay.

In class today, he “got back to it”. He said that it’s a very complicated question, we don’t need to know how to answer it, and that it is really only meant to be done with a certain technique. The very specific technique that my sister taught me. I was right. Just saying. (Correction: my sister was right. Credit where it’s due).

Then, he led the conversation to his favorite topic (this is the aforementioned ‘later’)- when is the next time we’re going to come in for our dose of torture by complete boredom? I had said all I had to say on the matter, which is that I don’t think we need these extra lessons and I don’t like them, but I’m keeping my schedule free so I can come whenever it works out for everyone to show up. Being completely sure that everyone knows where I stand, I just kept working on the question that was on the board and trying to tune everyone out. Like that ever works. Want a play by play of everything that was said? Okay.

Actually no, it would probably be very tedious to read. If I nickname my teacher Ree, I’ll just give you a general overview (and yes, I’ve now nicknamed the math teachers Ree and Ran):

-Ree told us that usually, in every school, in our entire country, in the entire world (his words), students have to come in over spring break to study math for the exams, but because we tend to travel he can’t rely on that, therefore we really need to figure out dates for when we can come in on our day off. He wants at least twice a month.

-Ree thinks we’re being childish, and need to “show some maturity” and figure it out already. By next lesson he wants a sheet with all of the dates.

-Ree: “You’re going to have to pass up on social events and family gatherings. This is important, guys. Again, show some maturity. Next time your parents offer to take you travelling somewhere in the world, you’re just going to say no because this is important.”

-Ree is fed up with us. He declares that if we can’t tell him right away that we’re willing to give up our lives for math (he’s so dramatic), he can no longer teach us. He can’t work this way. He’s going to go to the principal, and the other math teacher Ran, because it just won’t work this way.

I don’t have much to add; this sums itself up. Now comes the part where I tie in what I talked about in my opening paragraph. Humor: there is a humorous side of this. I am sure of it. I’ll let you know if I find it.

No, I’m kidding. I found it humorous while it was happening. How can you not when a grown man is being so overly dramatic about something you know is dumb? My friend mentioned later that she volunteers on her day off, and I agree with what she said: points in heaven are way more important than points on a math test. At least us students have our priorities straight.

After Ree made it very clear to us that we are the ones that have to come up with a solution, I started trying to say this and a few others chimed in: okay, we will, now can you please teach us some math? Now remember I had solved the question while everyone was arguing, so when Ree turned to the board and said “somebody do these calculations”, I said “It comes out to two and a half.” Ree snaps around, looks at me, I try not to laugh, and repeat, “the calculations. The answer is  two and a half”. Ree just kind of nods, writes it down, and I can’t even remember what happened later.

I have one thing to say to you Ree: get over yourself.

Wow, that felt good.

I have more to tell you all. I went to acupuncture for the first time yesterday, and I had an amazing experience while there. I think I’ll write about it separately though. Be sure to check back for it soon, it will be called “The First Time”*.

For now, I just have another few things to tell you. The first one is, I finished my drawing! We framed it, I took a picture of it, and it’s down below, after the song quote (as usual). Second, I have now officially been on a yeast free diet for 22.3 hours. Yeah. Third, test season is starting soon, so my plan is to write a bunch of pieces and store them for when I’m super stressed and don’t have time to think whimsically. I’m letting you know because… well, I actually don’t have a reason. Just so you know, I guess.

Be humorous!!!

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

Someday we’ll laugh about it. –All About You, Birdy

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All done!!! The angle here is really random, but it’s the only way I could manage to show the whole drawing without showing my reflection…

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This picture was taken before I put the finishing touches on, but it shows the whole drawing much better than the picture I tried to take after it was framed… (I showed this picture in my previous post)

This drawing goes incredibly well with the theme of this post… I’m impressed with myself for not having planned it. The original photo was from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artetetra/2401088691/in/set-72157600061371063

Pictures of earlier stages are shown in:

To Create, It’s Called Perseverance, Game

*EDIT: 10.23.13 – I never ended up writing “The First Time” (it’s not what you’re thinking, trust me), so I’m just going to kind of, maybe, sorta leave you all hanging… deepest apologies, everyone. I had another acupuncture session that unfortunately clouded over the glow of the first one, and since I just can’t seem to get back into that initial buoyancy. Again, apologies from me to you.