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!

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Game

Sometimes I feel like a bowling pin. Life is the big, scary, heavy bowling ball that comes hurling at me and knocks me down. Then something comes along and sets me upright again, and I just have to brave things out.

What a week I have had, let me tell you. In a nutshell, I had an awesome literature class, I had a pain attack in my elbow, my mom was in a car accident, I had a family adventure, I lost all hope I had of having a good year and I had the most awesome backgammon experience ever. I’m much too tired to tell you about everything, but I will write about some.

I was sitting in math class on Monday, and suddenly my elbow started to hurt. Damn Fibromyalgia. Very quickly I couldn’t move my arm at all, and I left the classroom to try and find ice somewhere. The teachers’ lounge didn’t have any, and I was in insane pain. A little while later my friend came over, and I guess my face was one of major suffering, because her facial expression changed immediately and she asked me what was wrong. It was her face that made me cry; until then I had been trying to be strong and keep it together, but when I saw her I just started sobbing. Then, amazingly, she reached into her bag, into her lunchbox, and pulled out an ice pack! I might have cried harder, but it was what saved me.

I was trying to walk to my next class (English), but when my English teacher saw me she quickly dropped her bag and put her hands on my shoulders to comfort me/ stop my shaking shoulders (sobs) that were worsening my pain. She brought me to the teachers’ lounge and made sure there was someone who could sit with me until I calmed down. So I ended up talking to a very sweet teacher who taught me two years ago, while putting the ice directly on my elbow and crying. I don’t think I stopped crying the entire 40 minutes we were there, but at least we had a nice conversation. I managed to make it to art that day, and just drew while an ice pack numbed my elbow (tied it with a bandana- nifty trick).

On Tuesday, I called my mom in the afternoon to ask her something, and knew instantly when I heard her that something was really wrong, even though she said she would be home in a few minutes. My first thought was that she had gotten really sick, that she had been in hospital all day and her cousin was driving her home. Next, I thought that she had a huge foam brace around her neck and was permanently disabled. Then I just imagined blood. She indeed made it home a few minutes later, she was on her own, and looked intact. The car didn’t though.

She had been stopped at a red light, when this car slammed into her from behind and her head flew forward. Do you know what happened next? She got out of the car, went to the man who had slammed into her, and shouted “Who do you think you are?!?! My kids need me!!!”  The man later told her his “foot slipped”. Thankfully, she’s absolutely fine, and the car is not important. The man filed his insurance report a little while after my mom, so we can get the car fixed and don’t have to worry about that. The main thing is: my mom is okay.

It was so scary. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. What’s next?

Backgammon. So one important thing for you to know is that the separation between teachers and students at my school is not very drastic (which is obvious if you actually follow my posts and read what I write)- they are our teachers, there’s that divide, but there’s mutual respect and we’re treated as almost equals. The teachers have the final say, but we actually have one.

Basically, the game was between this kid named Benson (fake names) who was playing against my friend, Maya (we keep a backgammon set in our school lobby. There used to be a Ping-Pong table, but it broke. We replaced it with backgammon.) I was helping my friend, and so was my former math teacher (not my current one), who we’ll call… Ran? If I’m to make an awkward abbreviation of his name. Ran and I were helping Maya, and the game was starting to get intense. For those of you who know the rules, every single situation that can arise in a game, did. Benson was winning, then Maya, then Benson…. Ran and I were moving Maya’s pieces when she took too long, Benson was getting vocal, and slowly a crowd started gathering. Seriously. We had an audience, watching this backgammon game. It was so awesome.

Anyway, the game got to the point where both Maya and Benson could start removing pieces from the board, and it’s all just up to luck, of who will get there first. Everyone in the audience was drumming their hands against anything available, chanting, and there was all this adrenaline in the air. Beson had five pieces in, Maya had four. Maya rolled the dice, removed two pieces. Benson rolled doubles, removed four. The crowd was going wild. Ran and I were giving each other these looks, Maya and Benson were having some weird staring contest, emotions were running high. Maya rolled, the right numbers showed up, her two pieces were out and we won!!!! Benson (jokingly) dramatically slammed his hand against the table and stalked off, while Ran and I clapped madly, the audience started to scatter and chatter excitedly, and I raised Maya’s hand in victory! Everyone was shouting, it was crazy.

I love that my school can get so into things, and we just had such a great time. Remind me some time to tell you how my friend and I caught a robber, and the entire school watched the police show up from the lobby’s window. T’was eventful. People are still talking about it. Not really, but it was cool.

Wow, I have written way too much. That’s okay though. There’s been a lot going on. So as you can see, it’s been a long and interesting week. Now, I really have to go do my insane amounts of homework. But do you see what I mean, about the bowling pin? I didn’t go into everything here, but I’m just being knocked around all the time, while still trying to have a good time in life. I really just need to sigh right now, so I will. At least I have a fun soundtrack to my life. Every now and then I put together a playlist and it ends up defining the different eras in my life. The current one is called, “I’m going, I’m going.” I love it! Birdy’s new album, Fire Within, came out this week and it is amazing, so I’m also enjoying that, especially No Angel, All About You, Light Me Up and Maybe. In case it interests you :) Maybe is on the right, if you’d like to hear it.

Love,

Ella

P.s. I know my posts lately have been kind of random and I ramble a lot. This is my official apology. I’ve had so much going on, I just don’t have time to come up with some really original, inspiring material. Honestly, when I sit down to write I just need to get all of this stuff out. The first draft of this was actually 1700 words, and I cut a bunch out. It’s probably boring for anyone who isn’t me. But, my point is, I’ll still keep working, and hopefully my stuff be back up to par soon.

Song Quote:

People like us we’ve got to stick together, keep your head up, nothing lasts forever, here’s to the damned, to the last and forgotten. It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom. -People Like Us, Kelly Clarkson

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Almost done!!!
Previous photos of the picture’s progress are shown in:
To Create and It’s Called Perseverance