Taking a break from blogging actually shifted the way I hold onto thoughts, so for some reason a lot of the small thoughts that blow into my mind and turn into posts are just blowing right on through right now. I'm not just out of the habit of writing, I'm out of the habit of thinking like a blogger. Hard to explain.
I'm in a seasonal gear-up, and my days are booked with meetings and appointments all day. I'm meeting with the sailors to talk about their individual and team goals for the spring season. I'm meeting with other coaches and with people from development and admissions and facilities management. I'm sorting out details of our spring break trip and keeping track of the boat repair work we're having done on our fleet. A sailor has a medical diagnosis that brings some uncertainty so I'm on the phone with the trainer and her doctor and I'm trying to help get her an appointment with a specialist. I'm figuring out the logistics of this weekend's regatta. The spring season is short, cold, compressed, and intense. We're in Florida on spring break from the 17th to the 25th, and then we practice and race through the end of May. Every weekend matters, as does every day of practice. We have a lot to do.
I've been going to the weight room with individual or pairs of sailors and walking them through the team workout. Yesterday I was doing my second set of wall sits of the day and wondered if I was going to fall over. My quads were trembling as I sat there with a student, asking her about her classes and hoping I could hold on for the whole 60 seconds. I made it through, and then led her through some ab work, trying to keep my voice from wavering as I counted our reps. Again and again with these sailors I feel self-conscious about whether I have much to offer them. I mean, I'm not exactly an expert weight lifter. And yet, I've been weight training, on and off, for about 12 years. I do know what I'm doing. And when I get to the gym I discover that I have a lot of help to give. It happens when they sit down across the desk from me to talk about sailing, or if conversation drifts to school or jobs or relationships. I'm no expert. But I can help, sometimes. Most of the time. Coaching has made me realize a bias I've been carrying around for a while. Maybe it's a holdover from being a lawyer. But the bias I have is that I need to know everything about something to be able to be useful. That I need to bring all the knowledge about the problem and the solution to the table. It's not true. I keep being surprised by ways that I can be helpful to my athletes that don't require extraordinary knowledge. Just my experience and my directed attention can push some things along, can help them get unstuck or feel confident about something that worried them. I have general ideas about how to help individual sailors and the team make progress, but each time I sit down with an individual I'm surprised at all the specific ways I learn that I can work with that person. It's really fun, and eye-opening.
This is turning into a post about coaching, which is not where I'd like to take it. Back to unsorted thoughts.
I've been spending a fair amount of time in the past few months giving Jeremy feedback about various drafts and iterations of the Anonymous Lawyer manuscript. Someday, with his permission, I'll post about what that has been like for me. But I suspect I'm almost as excited about the whole thing as Jeremy is.
My own writing projects include an article I'm writing about a couple of guys who build wooden surfboards in their basement, and my short story fiction class. My first short story is done, and it needs work in some pretty clear areas but I'm nonetheless pretty proud of it. I'm proud because the things I'm most terrified about: dialogue, plot, motion and pacing -- are the things that people consistently said worked. I've got to amp up the character development and balance out the scenes, but I think I have a sense about how to do that. At least I'm discovering that I'm not as bad at the things that terrified me as I thought I might be, and that feels good. My writing teacher has a great approach to teaching writing that I'm enjoying a lot.
I've been thinking about laughter these days. I was brushing my teeth and it occurred to me that although I love people who make me laugh I have rarely dated them. Not that I date humorless types, no, no, that would never work. But the kind of zingy banter I have with Turboglacier and 517 and Neighbor and the HOT girls and my best friends, the way we can get one another going, the particular combination of verbal back-and-forth, one-upsmanship, in-jokes, and escalating absurdity that is so much fun for me, is not generally shared by the men I've gone out with. I remember a Relationship Talk with a boyfriend a few years ago, who had just accompanied me to NYC, where we laughed with my high school friends. "You light up with your friends in a way you don't with me," he was explaining. "You don't laugh with me nearly as much as you do with them." He was right, and I explained that that didn't matter, but as I spoke I wondered whether it did. Does it? I still don't know. I've been thinking about what's going on there -- do I avoid dating men with that same sense of humor? Is there something about what I seek out in a relationship (earnestness, gentleness, sincerity, support for my more sensitive side) that isn't consistent with that kind of humor? Is it just because people I can laugh like that with are rare? No hypothesis yet.
Speaking of laughing with high school friends, I'm about to go to Montana for a week to visit my best friend Harpo. She's been my BFF since first grade, and is the reason I root for UNC. She's married to my college chum Tony, and on this visit I'll meet the four month old Lucy. Hooray! I'll be playing with a baby and writing next week by day, and laughing with dear friends by night. I'm hoping to connect with Cameron Sinclair, who I met at PopTech in October, for a little bit of inspiration and a cup of coffee, as well. If you have other suggestions for what I should do or see in Montana (first Helena, then Bozeman) please let me know.
I've decided not to do the XC ski 25K. Instead, I'll do something local that is roughly equivalent in athletic challenge, except maybe not quite so awkward and painful and inconvenient. I'm thinking about walking 15 miles, and I have a friend who will join me for at least part of it. Or maybe I'll try to run 7 or 8 miles -- I think I can go that far, but it's beyond where I've been training. Maybe I'll go 12 miles and split the walking and the running. In any event, this compromise makes me feel okay. I'm still going to push myself on March 4th, but I'm not going to drive to Rangeley to do it on skis.