If I was more predictable, normal and maybe just a better person, I would say that the best Christmas present was spending time with my beautiful family.But that wasn't it, beautiful as they are. I even have photographic evidence of their beauty in the form of the picture of Jenn, at right.
If I was more curmudgeonly (oh, wait, I am!) I would say that my best Christmas present was that Jenn graduated from college so my monthly bills have been cut in half.
That wasn't it, either, nor was it my first grandchild on the way, the many medals Ronda won this year or the fact that I finally finished the first draft of that final report on the Disability Access project that I have been working on the past two weeks. Give up?
On Christmas Eve, my husband walked into the room and said the last thing in the world I expected to come out of his mouth. No, smart-ass, it wasn't,
"I want a divorce."In fact, as outspoken as I am in life in general, Dennis and I almost never argue, due primarily to the fact that he is one of the most laid-back people on the planet. It's fortunate that we are married because if he lived alone, he could probably be dead for three or four days before anyone noticed. They would just think he was quieter than usual. No, he came into the room where I was working on Christmas Eve and said,
"Would you by any chance want to not work and be a housewife?"He went on to explain that he had been looking at our expenses now that Jenn has graduated from college and he figured that we could get by on just one income. I laughed and said,
"You're joking, right?"He shrugged and said he thought as much, but he just thought he would bring it up as an option. No, this is not the blog where I announce I am going to ditch the whole corporate thing and have the cleanest floors in Santa Monica. Still, I have to say I was really touched. I left home 34 years ago when I was fifteen, have been married three times and never for a day in my life have I ever had anyone else support me while I didn't work.
The more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was by the idea. Well, right now, I have two more reports to finish and a grant to write, but in February, here is my Christmas present - I am going to take a month off for the first time in my entire life.
Some of you may be skeptical. Specifically, those of you who are aware that I went to the Bahamas three times to try retirement and my record of time without working was 72 hours may wonder about my ability to take a month off work.
Those of you who think that I am going to just quadruple the time I donate to the USJA and other judo organizations, think again. I am not sure what all I am going to do but I am very excited and looking forward to it. Here is my list, for now:
- Write articles for publication in scientific journals using the data that has been collected and analyzed on the projects on which I have been principal investigator over the past two years.
- Learn more about HTML, CSS and PHP. I already use HTML pretty well but CSS I am far below proficient and PHP I should know more than I do, which is almost nothing.
- Listen to all those podcasts I have downloaded on wikis, moodle and other tech topics and never got around to listening to.
- Finally watch some of those judo DVDs that I have had around the house forever.
- Read a book a day, including books on web design, education and just general books with no socially redeeming value like Agatha Christie or Harry Potter (actually, I have read al the Agatha Christie books but my niece informs me that there have been two Harry Potter books published since the last time I actually had the leisure to read a book for fun).
- Update the Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. website and move the disability section to my new company, The Julia Group .
- Walk to the beach every day the weather is nice.
- Play baseball with Julia (the child, not the company).
- Read other people's blogs, not for information on technology or even judo but just for the hell of it.
- Get rid of 90% of the stuff in the closets, in the drawers and under the beds which was just shoved there because nobody had the time to figure out what to do with it.
- Go riding on the bike path through Venice and back.
- Take Julia to San Diego to the museums.
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Background: When Ronda was 12, the local black belt association (Nanka) started a program for high school and college students, one of those perennial efforts around the country to help our young people move "to the next level". Hayward Nishioka was running the program, and, although Ronda was just a skinny little green belt in the eighth grade and not old enough or a high enough rank, I brought her any way. They let her stay, not because she had shown any amazing promise at that point but rather because I am a rather difficult person to say, "No," to. Let's just leave it at that.
The first day they met in the classroom instead of on the mat. Hayward had all the players watch videotapes of matches and discussed analyzing why one person won and another lost. He talked about gripping, false attacks, strategies when you are ahead or behind, and how those differ at different points in the match. I told him afterward that I thought it was way too much for Ronda at her age, but Hayward urged me to try it anyway. Since Ronda won almost all of her matches, even at that age, and like all kids, she liked to watch herself winning, I didn't see the harm in it. My view on judo for young kids is that anything that makes them enjoy it is good. The other day, Ronda says to me:
I think I really benefited from you and Hayward having me analyze films of myself and my competitors from the very beginning. I see a lot of U.S. players who will lose the same way over and over. Because you drilled it in my head from the very beginning, whenever I get a chance, I watch my matches and try to analyze every mistake I made. I also look at myself and think, if I were the other player, what would I be doing to beat me. I don't see other people doing that. They say things like , "I beat myself," or "My judo is better but he won."I admitted that, although I was all in favor of her doing videotape analysis when she was 15 and on, it was Hayward's idea to start so young. She must have been feeling in an unusually sweet and complimentary mood that day because she went on,
I think that is just stupid and arrogant. Obviously, your judo isn't better because you lost. I know other people are studying me looking for my weaknesses, so I am studying myself and trying to find those weak points first. I want to be like trying to hit a moving target. At the same time, I am trying to see weak points in other people that I can take advantage of.
"You know, Mom, I think the thing that you did - that we did - right was to always be looking at what I needed to work on and who could help me with what I needed next. Like, you took me to those practices with Hayward. Then, when I was 16, do people really think we shut our eyes, put a finger on the map and came up with Boston? Remember how much we talked about what I needed to improve and how well Pedros was just the right fit for that? I think that is what I learned first from you and later from Hayward, to really analyze my judo. I don't see many other U.S. players doing that and I think that is one reason more of them don't win."
Ronda: Living proof that not all blondes are dumb.
P.S. For those of you who now think you are going to watch videos and become great judo players, I want to throw in the reminder that Ronda trains her ass off, too.