Category Archives: The Coach

Random thoughts for Friday

1. Tonight The Coach and I are going out for dinner at a nice restaurant for Valentine’s Day. Yeah, we know it was yesterday; the flowers have already begun to wilt and the chocolates melt. But you know what? This way works for us. For one thing, yesterday was a school night. Kind of hard for teachers to go out for Date Night when they know they’ll be waking up, as usual, the next morning at 5:00. Plus, when you’ve been married 27 years, you have quite a few Valentine’s Days under your belt and so it’s okay to let them go by with just a card and a kiss on the actual day. Also, unless you started planning shortly after New Year’s, do you know how hard it is to get a reservation anywhere on February 14th? At our age and stage, let the kids have ’em; we’ll just settle for the next day, after the crowds subside.

2. But I’m going to ask our waiter how many proposals happened last night. Assuming young men are still into that sort of thing. I really have no idea, but from what I hear, it seems like men of what used to be known as marriageable age are either putting off the whole proposal/getting married thing or just forgoing it altogether. Which you can understand, given that they have, at that age, bigger fish to fry. Like getting a good job — or any job. In order to pay off their mountains of student loan debt. Then, when they’ve got all that more or less under control, you think they’re going to want to take it on all over again, with a big Say Yes to the Dress-type wedding? Not hardly.

3. Our boy falls into that “marriageable age” category, and is actually seeing someone who could potentially be a spouse, so I suppose I have a close-range view of that whole phenomenon. At 25, he’s in no hurry whatsoever to take that step; doesn’t feel ready for it all, and says so. By comparison, his grandfather, at age 25, had already been married for two years and had a baby. So there you go. Times change.

4. And anyway, I’m not ready to be a grandmother — although I could handle mother-in-law, I suppose — so this works out fine for all parties. Although it’s Kupuna [Grandparents] Day today for the kindergartners at The Coach’s school, and he’s having to fill in for a couple of the little ones’ absent grandparents. So I guess he’s getting some practice at it.

5. Speaking of our boy, it’s a good thing he does have a job with benefits, because he’s about to go in for minor surgery on his foot, next Tuesday. He seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing, which is quite a relief because his tendency is to be somewhat, shall we say, dramatic about anything involving needles in his personal space. I went with him the other day for his pre-op medical clearance appointment, and when the nurse suggested he get a flu shot as long as he was there, you’d have thought she’d just asked him to donate a kidney. Wimp.

6. One of my New Year’s Resolutions has to do with a better — maybe the word is regular — job with my housekeeping chores. It would be great, I thought, to hire someone to come every other week or so. But that’s not exactly in the budget, so then I had the brilliant idea of “hiring” myself to do it. I mark on my calendar the days the “cleaning lady” is supposed to be here, then I set aside those days to do all the things a real cleaning lady would do. If I had one, that is. So far this has worked exactly … once. I totally skipped it this week, but in my defense (I can’t believe I’m “defending” myself over this. So lame.), what with all the construction going on, what would be the point?

7. I’ve had it in mind to post more regularly about life in my Hawaii, as I did last October. Little ideas for topics pop into my head from time to time, but as you can see, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. (Is it just me or does this whole post seem like it has way too many run-on sentences with commas sprayed everywhere like so much, um, fertilizer? If so, sorry.) Anyway, one of my ideas came from a sort of field trip The Coach and I took to a farm last weekend. I took a bunch of pictures to show what a Hawaiian farm looks like, and how it differs from farms elsewhere. So in lieu — or in advance — of a whole post, here’s a couple shots of the crop, taro (kalo, in Hawaiian):

Taro is grown in muddy-water rice paddy type plots known as lo`i. The one on the left has been recently planted; the one on the right is more mature but not yet ready to harvest. And yes, it’s raining.

Here’s what a taro plant looks like up close. In the Hawaiian diet, the whole plant is used, from the root, which is where poi comes from, to the leaves.

Advertisements

Just like Lewis & Clark, only traveling from the other direction

This is Part I of the story of our “move” later this year. I can’t fit the whole thing into one post, so it’ll have To Be Continued…

We all know Horace Greeley’s counsel: “Go West, young man.” Ever the contrarian (as well as neither young nor a man), I am turning that on its head, and going East.

The other day as I was scribbling some memoir-ish thoughts about how I made the decision to move back to Hawaii from California three-score years ago, my memories were filled with the usual Hawaii imagery: sea, sand, sunsets, palm trees — and how they all combined to persuade me that leaving the mainland then was best for my twenty-something self.

That turned out to be a very good decision, because two years later I met a guy who also was born and raised here, went to California for college, then moved back home. We fell in love (Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey!), got married, and were perfectly content with the idea of living happily ever after here on our little island in the middle of the Pacific.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the mainland. Some of my best friends live there.

But sometimes circumstances — in our case, an opportunity plus a certain fatigue — combine to persuade you to go back the other way, which is how we will later this year be heading off to Oregon.

But not forever; only for about four months. So not exactly a move, per se. But kind of.

The opportunity happened because our girl, a junior in a lovely liberal arts college in Oregon, is volleyball player like her dad. She was recruited out of high school by a coach who is also an old friend of ours, a guy who grew up here. For the past three years, he has been dropping hints to The Coach to come up there and be his assistant.

All that time The Coach has had his own team to be responsible for, so it was easy to brush off all the hint-dropping. But the fact is, coaching high school girls has gotten a little less fun every year. No doubt about it, his team has done consistently well, he loves his players, and they love him back. However.

The parents. Oh, those parents.

Parents of student athletes these days can be, you know, you’ve heard all the stories … nightmarish. A couple years ago The Coach started to feel a little like Rick in The Walking Dead: a survivor surrounded by flesh-eating zombies. At one point he had to say, that’s it; no more parents in the gym, watching practices and questioning the goings-on therein.

While possibly trying to eat some poor coach’s brains.

Of course not every parent is that way, but still, it’s a wonder anyone signs on to coach any high school sport anymore. After 30 years, The Coach knew that he had seen it all and done it all — at the high school level — and why not just step away from it before total burnout set in? So the hint-dropping began to have its desired effect and the idea of coaching our girl in her senior season took root.

But how to make that happen? Because actually coaching is just a part-time gig for him: his full-time, i.e., “real,” job is teaching P.E. to young elementary students. Which, as you might imagine, keeps him plenty busy. Ever tried keeping up with, much less instructing, two dozen six- and seven-year-olds on a playground for 35 minutes straight, six times a day? I rest my case.

So, to sum up: 30 years of coaching teenagers plus the same 30 years of teaching little kids, equals oh man, am I tired and in need of a break.

As in, a sabbatical. But not a sabbatical to coach volleyball, exactly. In order for him to get approval to do this, he has to be studying something or working on a project that he can show is going to make his teaching, when he comes back from the sabbatical, ever so much better.

The project he came up with, proposed, and will be working on while coaching our girl and her team in Oregon, is pretty cool. But it’s a story — with pictures! — for another day. So stay tuned.

The invisible (wo)man

Honolulu is a big city, nearly a million people live on my little island, but really it’s just a largish small town.

Put in terms of degrees of separation: if you’ve lived here for any amount of time, especially if you were born and raised here, we’re talking more like one or two, certainly not six.

A month ago The Coach achieved a bit of a milestone with respect to his coaching career. Let’s just say it was a very, very good night for The Coach and his team.

That night he received over 20 congratulatory text messages, and nearly as many emails.

The following night, a Saturday, we had been invited to go out to dinner with our best friends, and upon entering the restaurant — which is a pretty small restaurant, by the way; maybe two dozen tables — we saw three couples we knew, who all made a point of coming over to our table to shake The Coach’s hand and congratulate him on his achievement of the night before.

Sunday morning, The Coach and I went out for breakfast at our favorite little (yes, also tiny; what is it with us and small eateries?) neighborhood coffee shop, and two more people recognized him and offered congratulations.

So I’m married to something of a local celebrity. Which is kind of a challenge for me, on a couple levels. For one, I don’t possess even close to the same kind of face or name recognition that my husband does. In fact, apparently I have an ordinary, sort of forgettable face, because it’s rare for people to remember me, even after being introduced to me multiple times. This happens all the time.

On the other hand, no one ever forgets The Coach. So therefore, in these sorts of public situations, we’re kind of having the opposite experience.

I’ve gotten used to it. I admit it’s still irksome to have to re-introduce myself to people I already know, but because I no longer expect people to remember me, I’m mostly done being overly bothered by it. I’ve accepted my invisibility.

And being invisible is not so bad. In a way it’s a good fit for my personality type, which is introverted. (INFJ, for you Myers-Briggs folks.) Being invisible allows me to do a certain amount of observation, while I’m going mostly unobserved. Meaning that, while you’re engaged in conversation with The Coach and ignoring and/or forgetting me, I, on the other hand, am mentally salting away all sorts of information about you.

I’m not saying I missed my calling or anything, but I might have made a good spy. Hmm, I wonder if the CIA has any openings for middle-aged, nondescript matrons. Because I think I can do invisible like a pro.

29 years

Every year on December 5th, The Coach and I celebrate our anniversary.

And by “anniversary,” I don’t mean our wedding anniversary. It’s the anniversary of our first date.

And by “celebrate,” I don’t mean we actually have a celebration of some kind. More like we remember the day, or recognize it, or briefly acknowledge it.

And by “every year,” I don’t mean every year, exactly. Often, in the past two or fifteen years or so, only one of us may have remembered December 5th and gotten a card or something (this year: yours truly). I have to admit that some years both of us have forgotten the day. More than once, several days will have gone by when one of us will say, “Hey, wasn’t December 5th a few days ago?”

Anyway, 29 years ago, The Coach and I went on our first date. It was not your conventional dinner-and-a-movie type of thing, which may have been part of why it was so much fun. And why we still celebrate it. Only, not exactly, er, celebrate [see above].

This is where I could probably throw in a whole bunch of cliches about how 29 years ago I never could have imagined what my/our life would be like at this point, blah blah blah. It pretty much goes without saying, right?

I mean, today I’ve washed a whole bunch of dishes, done a load of laundry, scrubbed two bathrooms, washed some windows, and gotten the spare bedroom ready for a houseguest. And that was before lunch. But after I had made breakfast and The Coach’s lunch, read the paper, did the crossword, walked the dog and paid a couple bills.

On my “anniversary.” Somebody bust out the champagne.

So, yeah, maybe not exactly the future I pictured 29 years ago, but whose is? And anyway, you know what I think is the point of celebrating/recognizing/acknowledging (let’s face it: HAVING) a 29th first-date anniversary? It’s that it serves as a reminder that, no matter what the ride has been like for nearly three decades on our roller coaster of life — we got off to a pretty good start.

This was not our first date, but maybe four days later. Good grief, we were young

This was taken at a party a few days after our first date. Good grief, we were young.

Random thoughts for Friday

It feels like I’ve been drifting about this morning without a coherent thought in my head.

Unfortunately, this is the norm for me.

And I would love to post something that tells an interesting story or makes a certain point — a point! what a concept! — but at the moment I’m afraid the best I can come up with is sort of a random list.

We’ll get back to the whole point thing on another occasion. She said, hopefully.

1. I have to go to the store today to buy milk, which reminds me of a weird postcard that came in the mail yesterday. It was a legal notice, regarding a class action related to organic milk. I know, right? — Huh? Apparently there’s a suit claiming that a certain organic milk dairy, which supplies to Costco, Safeway and other retailers, “violated state consumer fraud and deceptive business practices acts,” and as a purchaser of their milk products I may be entitled to compensation.

Which gives new meaning to the term: “milk money.”

Anyway, I’m trying to figure out what this all means, and more importantly: What did they do to my milk??

2. I also got a call yesterday from my financial advisor that we have, over the years, earned “rewards points” from a certain debit card, and if we don’t use them by December 31st, we lose them. I don’t know about you, but I hate having this kind of pressure hanging over me. Or pressing down on me. Whatever. On the other hand, I think — well, more like I’m crossing my fingers — that we might have enough points for a flight to the mainland, so I’d better get on it.

3. That rewards points thing is a bit frustrating because it falls into the category of Things That I Have Time To Do And The Coach Doesn’t, Because He’s Teaching Children All Day Long And I’m Not, So It’s Easier For Me To Do It, But I Can’t Because The Account Is In His Name.

I need to figure out a shorter name for that category.

4. So Thanksgiving is looming ominously right around the corner, which I may have mentioned once or eighteen times, and I’m making progress on my grocery list but still have quite a ways to go. Like the bird, for one thing. (If I were smart, I’d pick up a few things when I am at the store later getting the hopefully-not-tainted organic milk, but that may or may not happen. Which may or may not be a reflection on my, um, smartness.)

You know what I have the hardest time with, with Thanksgiving? Not the cooking; the cleaning. It just seems endless.

And I hate to admit this kind of first world problem, but I have two refrigerators and at the moment they are both full. So I’m not sure where the Thanksgiving stuff is going to go unless I get busy clearing out the fridges. Sigh; one more thing.

5. Lately I’ve been having more what I’ve come to think of as old lady moments. Like the other morning when I woke up, creaked and groaned, and thought, “I may have overdone it a bit yesterday with the exercise.” And I hadn’t even done all that much. And you know that book of Nora Ephron’s called, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”? Let’s just say I’m getting to that point myself, neck-wise.

6. A number of years ago I “had my colors done,” you know, where they do this analysis on you and tell you what colors you should and shouldn’t wear. Turns out I should never, ever wear black. Which most of the time I’m fine with, because I don’t care much for black anyway. But there’s this one holiday party that The Coach and I attend every year that’s a little dressy, and I found this darling Little Black Dress online that I really want to buy for it, but … I’m not supposed to wear black.

Sorry; another first world dilemma there.

And side note to The Coach: I’m thinking it’s time to change your look up. The black suit? Maybe not this year.

7. I’m super excited that our girl is coming home for Thanksgiving, except for one thing: the four of us will be sharing a bathroom. Ever since the Great Master Bath Shower Disaster of three or four months ago (story for another time), The Coach and I have been using the kids’ bathroom down the hall. Then our boy moved back in, which made three of us sharing, and by next week it will be four. Four full grown adults. And all their products.

Another side note to The Coach: this bathroom remodeling project? Is it ever going to happen?

8. Now for a little weather update: Today is the first day that it kind of feels like fall here. It’s a bit overcast, but not raining, there’s a nice cool breeze — just a tiny indication that we might be in for something other than sweltering, for a change.

9. Have you ever noticed that the people who go on and on about how we all must be more tolerant, and not stand for intolerance wherever it rears its ugly head — are really kind of like, um, bullies about it? Just sayin’.

10. It bothers me a little that I haven’t posted anything with a picture since I finished the 31 Days thing a couple weeks ago. I don’t necessarily have anything I can think of to show you, though, so I’m just going to throw up this random shot from my photo library, of a sunrise in Fiji:

Doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but it’s pretty, no?

Have a great weekend!

Letter to my husband

Dear Coach,

4:50 am: for the first time in 3 months, the alarm goes off. Now your routine changes, from waking at sunrise to waking an hour before it. You will get up, shave, shower, eat breakfast, and drive to work in darkness. Most days, you won’t really mind. Some, you will.

5:30: I get your lunch bag out of the drawer where it has been stowed for 3 months, and make you a sandwich and a fruit salad, your lunch today, as it has been for many years, every week, Monday through Friday. While I do that, you are putting 10 or 12 greens and fruits into the blender for your breakfast. We work together in the kitchen without speaking, the motions of our tasks a choreographed routine we do from muscle memory.

6:00: we eat breakfast together in silence. You read the sports pages; that’s all you have time for. By 6:20, you are upstairs brushing your teeth and putting your backpack together, finishing getting ready for the day. By 6:35 you are out the door; I kiss you and wish you a good day, knowing it will be another 12 hours until I see you again. Maybe longer. And knowing all our weekday mornings for the next nine months will look like this.

I listen to the birds waking as I return to my coffee and the newspaper; I’ve got a lot to do today but I’m not quite ready to get started. And, I’m indulging in a little sadness, facing this tangible reality that summer is over and you must again put on the hat that says Teacher.

The parents of your volleyball players joke with me, every year it seems, that they are going to “borrow” you from me for a few months. “But don’t worry,” they laugh, “at the end of the season we’ll give him back!” Every August, when summer ends, I have to hand you over again, to your students and players (and their parents). I’m not ready. I never am, this time of year.

Still, I say a quick prayer of thanks, for the blessing of being married to a teacher. I love that we get to spend (most of) the summer together, and I even love living in the special rhythm of the school year with you. I love the stories you bring home of your students, and colleagues, and all the adventures of teaching and learning you’ve gotten to experience for the past 28 years.

Thank you for sharing your summer with me. It was a good one this year, wasn’t it? I’m already looking forward to next year, to having you back, all to myself, for 3 months. In the meantime, know that I’m so proud of you, and praying for a great nine months for you.

Happy New Year!