Archive for December, 2013

24
Dec
13

Merry xmas eve ….

Merry xmas eve …

Miracle-On-34th-Street-1947-5-300x168

It’s been the most delightful of evenings.

The tree is up and lighted. The dining table cleared. Family happily ensconced with the prodigal daughter aching for the morning when she can tear through her many brightly wrapped packages.

There is something wonderful about seeing one’s 14-year-old still so excited about what Santa will bring!

I admit to a bit of excitement myself mostly because Jewish pagan that I am my investment in the holiday has its own crazy sort of quality to it that is devoid of religion–yet tied to the ideas of joy, peace and giving.

Having reclaimed the living room from writing space (the couch was my literary island for weeks at a time when I wasn’t in the basement of the Dean Street Starbucks in Brooklyn) to actual place where the family can gather, I am feeling a rising crescendo of anticipation, not so much about what loot I’ll net, but at the thought of the twinkle in my family’s eyes when they uncover the secrets within the paper, ribbons and bows that festoon their presents.

I guess that’s what it’s always about in the end. Thinking of the one thing that can bring absolute joy to another.  Sometimes it is something as simple as a favorite food or the special hot chocolate that accompanies breakfast or perhaps a kind word said at just the right moment.

It all puts in mind the months I traveled through Asia on my own. I traveled light having figured out that each thing I brought with me meant that it had to be schlepped on my back–and after a while I shedded possessions as a snake would its skin, growing a new self that would only carry things that could have several uses, trading as I went for books and other nice to haves that I carried one at a time.

I also came to embrace things for what they were: moments in time that were unique and unlike any other. These experiences were serial in nature and while time certainly didn’t stand still–the days always felt longer because my experience of them was so complete.

Christmas is like that for me. It is full and every second of it feels kind of precious. A true day off from the work-a-day world where so much of it goes by without thinking, I find in the tiny red, gold, blue and green lights of the tree a kind of magic that makes me feel very alive.

Sure, the spell will be broken–but for the moment I feel at one with Santa as he drops off presents in Georgetown, Guyana.

Please accept my very best wishes to all of your this very lovely holiday night!

14
Dec
13

Back to basics …

Back to basics …

Lennox Blackmoore & Malissa Smith

Stepping back into anything whether its training or writing blog entries takes a bit of getting used to!

With my manuscript for A History of Women’s Boxing at the publisher (and working through manuscript cuts)–I can attest to how difficult it is to find one’s way back to the earlier routines.

Boxing–not unlike serious dance–is a sport that requires constant fine tuning not only to keep one’s muscle-memory in tact, but to make physical sense of all of the nuances.  Throw in some old bones like mine and that savvy seems to revert back to near on zero after a few months!

For the last four weeks I’ve been attempting to turn back the clock–so to speak–to move my body into the next “space” vis-a-vis how I look to myself shadow boxing in front of the mirror. In a word … Ugh!  Well, okay, I’ll modify that.  “Ugh!” for the first three weeks and a mere, sheesssshhhh for today.

With just a four-month layoff, my timing became non-existent, I couldn’t muster more than 50 situps and the pad work was ugly. Facing my trainer Lennox Blackmoore in the ring was even worse! I could *barely* make it through three rounds (never mind four) of the *ugliest* looking punching you’ve ever seen!  And there was not ONE straight right that I didn’t walk in to!  Talk about humbling.

By the second week–I could at least make it through three + rounds, but my ring performance was no better even with Len egging me and shouting SLIP!  I think I managed to slip exactly one punch–well, maybe I’m being a bit generous to myself. I also managing a 16 round workout, but the situps remained pathetic.

My next step was to add two nights of training on my own after work–to at least bring my conditioning up and to focus on basics such as stance and the jab-jab-right-slip-right combinations. Last Saturday, however, was even worse in the ring–I still kept heading into the straight right, and finally in frustration, I just had Len keep throwing rights at me till I’d slip left out of the way! That seemed to help somewhat although I was still feeling bummed and even my timing on the double-ended bag was awful.

Back at it this week I kept plugging away doing rounds on the slip-rope and the heavy bag to work on those imaginary punches coming my way and spending rounds working on my stance, my footwork and throwing punches from the “slip” position. The only bright spot was realizing that my conditioning was coming back–with my body comfortably moving and working hard through all 16 rounds of work.

That all paid off today when I was able to get through four rounds in the ring with Lennox still able to breathe! As for slipping those punches–we’re talking a work in progress! He nailed me CONSTANTLY, but I did manage a few in every round and kept up with him when we shoe-shined during the last 30 seconds of the fourth round.

As for the rest of my workout, I had lots of stamina and spent a good six rounds slipping and punching as I moved around the heavy bag and the double-ended bag. The speed bag work was fun too. I was doubling-up like a demon and jumped over to the double-ended bag during the one-minute round breaks. And beyond that I actually did 100 situps–admittedly slooowwww, but at least back to my old number!

Despite the fact that my conditioning is much improved, I still feel like a physical moron in the ring and realize that it’s a matter of retraining my brain. The fact is, when I see a punch coming, I want to pull back, and that would make sense if I was stepping back with it and following it up with something, but I’m not. I’m just dumbfounded as I try to hit back and as the milliseconds of inaction tick by I, of course, get slammed with another punch!

The “Pollyanna” in me is convinced that my 59-year-old body can learn some new tricks … but even if I never really do, I at least feel good for trying.

Here’s a nice short video on how to slip a punch–and if you don’t have a slip bag, you can always follow my lead and slip the shower head in the morning.




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