Working, Learning and Schmoozing

Well the weather cooperated and I did end up heading up north to Barrie, where I am doing some work and mainly trying to help out at a volleyball camp. Which means I’m doing odd jobs — spreadsheets of data, lists of people — and generally trying to help out wherever I can.

It’s not easy. I’m new, and the people I work with aren’t even from Ontario. So I’m mostly out of the loop. But that’s okay — they’re very nice people and I am just jumping in and helping out where I can.

I am learning how little I know about this game. I always had what you’d call a low volleyball IQ, but when you’re surrounded by all these people who do this for a living and know so much, it throws just how little I know into sharp relief. Sometimes, I’d love to just sit down with these people and ask a million questions. “Why is that…?” “How do you know…?” I want to learn.

But I watch, and I listen, and I hope to pick up a little bit here and there.

And there are coaches here from all over, people I have read about from places I have written about. I haven’t met any of them yet, but there is a meet and greet thing tonight. I’ll stop in, have a beer and some pizza, maybe meet a couple of people. I won’t stay long, likely. I haven’t got much to say.

And BDH could not come with me. It’s lonely, and I feel stupider when he isn’t here. When we coached together, he was the smart one, the one who saw all the details and figured out all the strategy. But he’s not here. No strategy filter. I’m on my own. I feel like when I was a player again — I wasn’t smart or strategic; I got by on sheer physical skill, so a lot of complex things just flew past me. And the same is happening today. It’s like watching a foreign language film without subtitles, and you only know bits and pieces of the language.

But it’s fun. It’s a learning experience. It’s a work experience.

Ten Good Things About This Summer So Far

…in no particular order…

Summer has been good so far.

  1. Less humidity than a normal July brings to southern Ontario. Although, there’s also been next to no rain, which is not cool on a number of levels. My grass is brown, my vegetable garden is stunted (except the mutant onions from Mars, but hey, it would not be summer if something didn’t go haywire in my garden) and my flowers are dying a slow pathetic death. Welcome to the desert.
  2. Doctor Who season 3 episodes streaming from the CBC website. Kudos to the CBC for getting this up and running so quickly and, quite frankly, so brilliantly. I don’t have cable but I loves me my Doctor Who — although he’s no Ninth Doctor, number Ten is charming and the stories are pretty good. And now I can get my fix without waiting to buy the series on DVD! The network rocks my world in so many ways this summer; this is just one of them. If they get Torchwood streaming, I’ll be happier than a person should be allowed to be.
  3. BDH playing soccer. He’s happier than he’s been in years now that he’s playing the game he loves again. It’s good for his health, it’s good for his spirit, and it gives us another sport to talk about (which is, for the jock wife, a big bonus).
  4. Our homestudy is done. There’s a big load off, and now that it’s done it’s done forever. If we adopt in future, the homestudy still applies (with a quick update).
  5. Volleyball. I’m getting my fix this summer, what with all the international competitions, High Performance, and one of our former players off to university in the US. Just wish I could watch more online — it would make my blogging job easier.
  6. The Mayor got a job. And, I think, so did the Mayor’s Wife. All I know is they’re not around and they’re not bugging me.
  7. Wireless internet access. I’m on the porch using my laptop, with decent internet access. I don’t have to miss the summer because I am sitting inside.
  8. The cats are healthy, particularly Opus. So far. Knock on wood. We just can’t afford any more major health crises this year with all the fees to be paid for the adoption. Plus, we can do without the added stress and worry.
  9. Friends with barbeques. We’ve been visiting friends a few times, and it’s been lovely. Not least of which is the wonderful food we’ve enjoyed, cooked on the grill. It’s such a treat in summer to grill outdoors. Our barbeque — and I use the term loosely, only in the larger philosophical sense, since our barbeque stopped resembling a barbeque years ago — is currently home to various species of insect and probably rodent.
  10. Being able to drink wine. I could not drink while there was a chance I might be pregnant — so, for the last two years or so, while I was doing infertility treatments. Not that I can drink much now, but at least enjoying a glass of wine with friends out on the deck of an evening is not a problem.

The Flexibility of Age

As you know, I was at the men’s national volleyball championships this past weekend. The last time I went to Nationals was almost 20 years ago; it’s been hosted too far away for us to go in the last few years.

I love the atmosphere of Nationals. It’s like a big party full of fans. Lots of really loud music, lots of good volleyball. Everyone there, for the most part, loves volleyball. There are so many knowledgeable people there, so many students of the game. Sometimes it seems with volleyball like it’s a fringe sport, because it never gets covered on TV, never gets media attention, and so unless you are “in the know” you never have any idea that these events are going on.

I love the fact that the teams play their best volleyball on this weekend. These teams come from universities across Canada after their conference playoffs. They all want to win, and they all have a shot at it. And that makes for some exciting matches.

I went this year to cover the sport for my volleyball blog, and BDH came with me to take pictures. We sat down to watch warm ups, where the players were hitting balls as hard as they could and the fans were “oooh”-ing and “aaah”-ing over each big hit. We got familiar with player names, heights, that sort of thing. I told BDH who the big stars were, who he should watch, what teams I was cheering for. The first night, we watched two very good matches. It was really exciting. Really excellent volleyball.

Sunday, we went back for playoffs. We watched my favourite team, Dalhousie, win 5th place. Then for the next match, we found ourselves surrounded by UBC fans, and the father of their best player was sitting in front of us. He was very proud of his son, and with good reason: his son had an excellent match, and was probably the best hitter out there. But they lost.

And then, a strange thing happened. The son of the fellow in front of us came up into the stands to see his family. And I realized: Oh my God. He’s just a BABY. He’s so YOUNG. I actually gasped. I hadn’t realized — well maybe I had, but had forgotten. In the excitement of watching in the stands, seeing these great athletes do exceptional things, I had forgotten that they are just university students. These athletes are so powerful, hit the ball so hard, jump so high. But they are so very young. I started to look around at these boys. They’re 18 through, say, 24 or so. They are men, sure, but they’re just starting out in life. They have young, fresh faces and pimples and bad fashion sense and still have the gawkiness of boys. I was just so surprised by it.

And then, during the intermission, I looked around at the fans. There were fans of all ages and shapes and sizes. I looked at the young university girls, some of the girlfriends of the players. So young! So tiny! This is before middle aged spread starts to hit, clearly. Parents, friends, relatives — all sorts of people.

The P.A. was playing all sorts of songs, mostly classic rock songs. An AC/DC song came on. I continued to look around. And then I noticed, over among the Winnipeg fans, and older fellow, probably mid-to-late 50s, dancing around a little bit. TO AC/DC. He was grooving in that Older Man sort of way, that you only ever see at weddings. And then I realized: This song was probably popular when he was young. This is a song of HIS generation. No wonder he was rocking. This is HIS music. And then Ozzy Osborne came on, and the B.C. Dad in front of me was dancing and shaking his tambourine in time with the music. This was also a song of his generation.

Cool.

And then, I looked over at the guys broadcasting the event. One of the men was a guy I had known for a little while, many years ago. I was 18 and he was probably about 21 at the time. We met at tournaments and hung out with the same group of people and partied, and at a national championships just like this one, too. He was a man that, when I was a teenager, was one of my heroes, one of my big crushes. And then I met him, and he was a regular kid in university (albeit with an incredible athletic career), just like me. And now, there he was, salt and pepper hair, not so big and muscular as he once was. A nice looking man, married now, probably a dad. Probably also marvelling at the youth of these boys. Tapping his feet and grooving a little when “Ice Ice Baby” came on. A long way from the party boy and Olympic athlete he once was.

And so I realized that age is a number, but youth is in your mind. All these people were of all these different ages, and yet, they were right in their element. They were just the age they were supposed to be. How old or how young they are depends on perspective, how they feel inside, and who is looking at them. I didn’t feel all bittersweet that I was no longer young like the players, that myself and the sportscaster were no longer in our prime. I didn’t find it odd that the older folks were rocking out to Trent Reznor.

It all fit, just fine.

Miss Me?

Adoption Journey – Day 45

I was away all weekend. Did you miss me?

It was crazy busy for us last week. We had a billion things to do for the adoption, and on top of all that, the men’s national volleyball championships were on this weekend. My work for Bomberino got us free media passes for the weekend, so we went to cover the matches. And honestly? You didn’t have to twist my arm to go to that — there’s little I enjoy more than sitting at Nationals watching really good men’s volleyball. Sure, my arse and lower back are killing me from a weekend on the hardest bleachers in the universe, but otherwise? Great time had by all.

But our key event this weekend was our Adoption Preparation Seminar. It’s not a requirement of adoption here in Ontario — it is “highly recommended”, meaning it might as well be mandatory. And also, starting next year, it WILL be mandatory, and about 3 times as long and 5 times more expensive than the course we took. So we bit the bullet and decided to get it done right away. This meant getting up at 6 am after a late night at the gym, and then sitting for 8 hours in a seminar after a night sitting on the bleachers. So we were a sorry sight to see on Saturday.

On Saturday, we headed off to Toronto with no expectations. This was totally new stuff for us. We’d read the course outline, but still we didn’t know what to expect. But we arrived to find a very welcoming seminar leader, Sofie, and a ballroom full of adoptive couples. Everyone looked as apprehensive as we felt, but Sofie quickly put everyone at ease.

The morning’s session was pretty informative. There were a lot of notes taken and a lot of discussion to be had. But a disturbing trend in the material was the prevalence of a lot of worst-case scenarios. The videos were of couples who sounded like they never should have had children in the first place were talking about the negatives of adoption. The lists were lists of feelings and consequences of loss. It is stuff that has to be covered, obviously — people need to know that adoption, and specifically in our case international adoption, has the possibility of a lot of issues of adjustment, health, development — but by the end of the morning we were beginning to feel a little less than optimistic about the prospects of adoption.

The one thing that glimmered with hope for us was the videos of the children in their orphanages. We saw all these little ones, playing and talking and so very cute — and that made us smile. The little people tugged at our hearts and reminded us why we were there.

The afternoon was slow. By this point, both BDH and I were feeling the effects of the night before at Nationals and our backs hurt and we were struggling to stay alert. And initially, the material was more of the same. “Here are all the issues you will face”. BAH. I know it’s going to be tough, alright? And the capper, the thing that completely bummed us out, was the first speaker of the afternoon, an adult who as a child had been adopted from an Asian country who had never really been helped to identify with her birth culture and — are you ready for this? — became clinically depressed as a teen and suicidal as a young adult. GREAT. Now I am REALLY terrified of the prospects of adopting a child. Thanks for THAT.

I was really beginning to wonder why we were doing this course, why we were considering adopting at all. And then the next speakers came in: two families with adopted kids. Both moms spoke about how wonderful an experience it was, how they never regretted for a moment adopting their children, what a blessing their kids were. This was a reminder of what it was about for me. Yeah, there might be struggles. But at the end there is a family. And also? Having one of the little ones, a beautiful and bubbly toddler from China running around and chatting at the back of the hall during the speakers’ presentations, totally charmed me, and erased all the negatives. Happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids are the norm, not the exception. Yes, there will be work, but in the end, it’s worth it.

So the bad news was ultimately tempered by the good. It was a worthwhile day, although, I still have more questions than answers. A lot of what I need is concrete information — stuff that I am sure will come with time and will be answered as we go along. In the end, I’m glad we got another task completed, another item checked off our checklist.

In the end, we were supposed to go back to the gym and catch the evening’s matches. But we were sore and exhausted. It was all we could do to get home and get supper and crash into bed early. Because yesterday was another early morning, another full day at the gym, and another day of sore tailbones from the bleachers.

So, yeah. In everything in life, I guess, there are good things and bad things.

Building a Better Mom-In-Training

Fiona, that fitness goddess, has inspired me.

Recently, she chronicled her adventures in running, and one of the things she said was (paraphrasing slightly) that if you want to do something, you can do it. And what I want to do is to get into better shape in advance of the Mystery Baby’s arrival.

Now, it used to be that I got into shape by playing volleyball. It was a good workout and I played it every day for about 2-3 hours. It was a lot of running and jumping and a fun way to workout. Well, 10+ years on, and I have to admit that I am too old for that sort of thing. I am well and truly long past my playing days, as much as it pains my vanity to admit (but my knees, OY! They thank me). It’s hard on the joints that took so much abuse during those years of everyday workouts. And quite honestly, a year and half of infertility treatment hasn’t done much to help with things, since I’ve been stationary for a lot of that time and, frankly, swelled up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the drugs bytimes. So, that’s out. And coaching, even if I were not taking time off, would not be enough of a workout.

So then my thoughts turned to various gym-related activites. Yoga? I hear people fart a lot during yoga, and really, don’t you think that would be, to say the least, distracting? Seriously. I don’t want to be around my cats when they fart, let alone total strangers. And doG forbid, finding myself in the “dog chasing cat saluting the mountain” pose, and suddenly… (*shudder*) No thanks. I think Rodney Yee and I can just commune by DVD in the privacy of my living room, thankyouverymuch. Next. Join a gym? Well, all my free cash is invested in Mystery Baby right now, and most gyms in the area are fairly expensive. Swimming? PLEASE. I’d have to, like, WEAR. A. BATHING. SUIT. So, NO. Not until AFTER I am a svelte domestic goddess.

But then, reading Fiona’s post reminded me of the treadmill in the basement. Yeah, I’ve been walking, but maybe it’s time to rachet things up a bit. Maybe it’s time to set a schedule and push a little harder. So today, I am starting on a new fitness routine, trying to build upon the progress I am making. I am going to try mixing things up a bit, maybe adding a minute of jogging into every 5 minutes of walking, or something like that. Something to increase what I am doing, and also adding a little variety so I don’t get bored and discouraged. Because if there’s one thing I hate to do, it’s run in the “jogging for exercise” sense, so if an opportunity presents itself to quit, then I’m on that like a duck on a junebug. And I need to NOT quit. BDH has also offered to move a TV and DVD player and some speakers into the basement to keep us distracted while we exercise, which I think might help. Anything to help distract me is good.

So we will see how I do. The Goddess Fiona has inspired me. The treadmill will help perspire me. And hopefully, because I want to do it, I will be able to do it.