Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nice Once, Embarrassment Next Time

Steve was up at the front desk talking to Mary when I arrived at the fieldhouse. "Do you want me to talk to Jordan?" he asked. "No, I'll do it," I said. "He's down there," Steve replied, adding that he would back me up behind what I had to tell Jordan. Steve gave me the keys to open up the gym. JJ was waiting along with Jordan. "Do you have the keys?" Jordan asked when I approached them. "Yes, Jordan, I have the keys," I said, with a lot of irritation in my voice.

As soon as everyone was settled, I stepped to Jordan. "It was rude and disrespectful how you interrupted me while I was helping the new guy last Friday. I would appreciate it if you would not do that again." Jordan had an ugly look on his face, and started walking away as I got to the end of my speech. "My bad. . .I didn't mean to," he said, but I didn't believe it. "When you disrespect Hillari, you disrespect me. She's been here for awhile, and she's helped me out a lot. You could learn something from her," Steve said. No, Jordan didn't appreciate what I said. However, I didn't come to him like I normally would have towards someone in such a situation -- yelling, screaming, and cursing him out. I was nice this time.

Jordan did his usual the rest of the evening, which involved running his mouth, hitting the heavy bags without gloves on and half-doing his whole workout. He even had the nerve to ask Steve if he would get him ready for the Golden Gloves. JJ had suggested the City-Wide Tournament in March, but Steve once again reminded Jordan that he has to show that he's putting some work in.

I doubt that anything I said to Jordan sunk in. Friday will be the real test when Shawn comes back in, and I continue teaching him the basics. If Jordan pulls his usual crap again, I will embarrass him in front of the whole gym.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Times Dope

"That kid drives me crazy", Steve told me last night. He was referring to Jordan, who managed to tick me off several times that evening. A new guy, Shawn, came to the gym. He had never boxed at all, and he had to start at square one. Steve asked me to work with him, as Steve was working with the other new people who had been there since the session began.

Everything was going fine, until Jordan asked Shawn about his boxing experience. Jordan latches on to the novice boxers like flies on excrement. He doesn't want to spar anyone who has any kind of experience. Jordan jumped in and decided to give advice. He decided in his pea brain that I wasn't telling Shawn the right thing. "You should be teaching him how to stand," he told me. That's what I was doing. Excuse you, I thought.

Jordan interupts again while I was showing Shawn how to throw a jab. He deliberately steps in front of me and tells him, "Listen to me. I have more experience than her." I resisted the urge to snap on him and swallowed my irritation. During the next interruption, he said, "Why is she teaching you?" We've all been young and dumb, but Jordan is a classic textbook example of that. I've long suspected that Jordan has a problem relating to women based on how he interacts with me and the other women in the gym. However, Friday was the last time he's going to disrespect me. I will inform him of that fact the next time he comes into the gym.

Steve told me that a guy who used to come to the gym a long time ago has signed up for it again. "Guess who it is," he said. "Jeff?" I answered. "No, think of someone who was a real character. Jeff wasn't a character," he grinned. "You're right, Jeff wasn't like that. Not like Igor was, anyway," I agreed. "That was a good guess! That's who it is," he smiled.

Igor was going to the gym when I first started there in September of 2002. Igor is Russian, and his English isn't so good. But he would come in and put in a full workout. Igor had to have been in his mid-50's back then. He's probably over sixty years of age now. He used to drive Steve crazy with his questions, but Igor was harmless. I can put up Igor better than I can put up with Jordan right now.

There were no old timers in the gym last night (other than me), which is a rare occurrence. There are two guys whose names I don't know, who have been coming in for a couple of weeks now. Steve had been running drills with them in the ring. Before he left for the evening, Jordan dropped what he believed were pearls of wisdom on the two. Steve acknowledged that everything Jordan says is not exactly wrong. But after Jordan left, he told the two guys, "Take what Jordan says with a grain of salt. He acts as if he has a lot more experience than what he has."

Jordan had told Shawn he's been boxing since he was 17 years old. He's now 21. Yet he can't seem to take hits, which is one reason why Steve is reluctant to let him spar. I've also noticed when he's working with Steve, Jordan doesn't seem to know what the coach is talking about while he's giving him pointers. But he has loads of experience. "What a maroon", as Bugs Bunny would say.

Friday, January 25, 2008

JJ Misses A Turn

I learned Wednesday night that JJ lost his fight to Ramon at the IL State Championships. "Ramon danced in circles around him, while JJ didn't throw enough punches," Steve explained, sounding obviously disappointed. JJ would have been a state champ if he had won that match. There's one more go around at the Golden Gloves Tournament to bring home a trophy, then Steve will be gone.

Paul and Kristen came in; I met them both some time ago at a match out in Aurora, I believe. Steve said that Paul was robbed of a win at the State Championships, but Kristen won in her category. She told me that Rita, a professional boxer, runs a group for female boxers that meets at Degerberg Martial Arts Academy. I would love to go up there and check it out, despite the fact that I can no longer compete. Unfortunately, it meets on Sunday mornings, and I can't skip church services often.

Mike sparred with Paul. As usual, Jordan asked if he could spar. "You're not ready, man," Steve told him. When Jordan kept begging and sulking, Steve broke it down to him. "You can't get upset everytime you get hit, or someone accidently pokes you in the eye. You have to get used to that," he told him. Jordan promised he would act differently the next time he comes into the gym. Yet I noticed he was still doing his habit of not putting in a full, consistent workout.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Night Of Women

It was an easy and mostly quiet night in the gym Friday night. I was determined to get there on time. Les had me come out to the south side site again yesterday. After enduring someone falling on my knee while I was on the Red Line, and freezing on the Adams and Wabash platform while five trains zipped past before the one I needed arrived, I made it out there. Then he thought I was going to stay there all day, even though an annoucement had gone out earlier that the offices were closing early in observance of Dr. MLK Jr. Day. I keep telling him over and over that I cannot stay out at that location until 5:00 PM. The commute is too long getting there and coming back. "I have to be home in time so I can get ready to open up the gym. The coach won't be there tonight," I informed him. I'm beginning to believe he thinks I don't have a life outside of work. I certainly don't share his passion for kids, something that I've never misrepresented myself about to Les. I agreed to stay until 3:00 PM, and then I was out faster than water out of an overturned glass.

Jordan showed up, as I predicted he would, asking where Steve was. Paris Two came in, and it didn't take long for Jordan to gravitate to him. "You a new boxer?" he asked Paris Two. Jordan convinced Paris Two to put on some gloves and come in the ring with him. "Steve doesn't want people sparring when he's not here," I said, issuing the rule more to Jordan than to Paris Two. "We not sparring," Jordan said. I told them to be careful, then they did light drills for a few rounds.

At the end of the night, there was just myself, Carla, Deb and Arin in the gym. Usually, the guys are still hanging around and all the women (except for me) are gone. I had never seen that before in the six years I've been going to that gym.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

State On The Way

Steve spent most of the time last night prepping JJ for his match at the Illinois State Boxing Championship, which takes place tomorrow night. Steve was considering closing up the gym Friday night, but I agreed to open it up. Knowing that in a couple of months, when the Golden Gloves are in full swing, the gym will probably be closed a lot, I figured I should come in.

Eric, Nick and Mike sparred with each other. Mike has often said he needs to calm down in the ring, and he was rushing the guys in the early rounds. Steve pointed this out, and Mike brought it down a little. Nick was tired out, but he hung in there with Mike. Steve told him that he has to get his cardio up. Eric took a hit in the face from Mike which really threw him off. Eric was supposed to do two rounds with Nick afterwards, but he begged off. He promised Steve he would do those rounds the next time.

Steve asked Andy about sparring next week, and Andy agreed. However, Andy admitted he felt a bit nervous about doing so. "You'll be fine," I assured him. Andy has advantages of a long reach and long legs. If he uses those to move around and keep his opponent away, he could avoid being hit too much.

Jermaine and Ben showed up, albeit late in the evening. Keith was a no-show, as was Jordan. JJ's friend, Sam was there again, but I'm not sure if he signed up for the gym. While newcomers Deb and Carla returned, I noticed that Dan, Paris, Paris 2 (there's a second new guy in the gym with that name) and Peggy didn't come in. When I pointed out Peggy's absence to Steve, he remarked, "I'm not surprised that she didn't come back." Honestly, neither am I. On the first day, she didn't give the impression that she was going to be there long.

I meant to try out an energy drink that I had picked up at Walgreens earlier this week. There have been plenty of times when I felt worn out before the workout got started good. Some of that can be blamed on being drained from dealing with frustrations at work before I get to the gym. Sometimes dealing with nonsense at work has the opposite effect of producing energy to burn (like last Friday when I took out my anger towards Les on the heavy bags). Other times, the slow down has to do with diabetes zapping my energy. I don't completely trust energy drinks because many of them are filled with caffeine. I was going to drink half of the bottle before I came to the gym, but I forgot. Hopefully, I remember on Friday. If it is effective, and doesn't leave me jittery or produces a big crash after it wears off, I might use it on a regular basis.

There was a cola called Jolt. I don't know if it's still on the market, but whenever I needed a major energy lift, I would grab a can of that. Jolt's advertising slogan was "Twice the sugar, twice the caffeine", and they weren't lying. However, that stuff was wicked. I would be up for hours, and the crash afterwards was a trip. After awhile, I left it alone.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Punches For Work

Friday did not start well. Les called and accused me of not paying attention to what a board member had said the day before about meeting with one of the directors. That was not true; in talking to the board member after Les's call, I was assured I hadn't misread their attentions at all. My desk was filled with work that I was behind on because Les had me out at the south side for two days the previous week. Les' comments about him not feeling he could depend on me to get things done, while I was in the middle of playing catch up were not appreciated. I pointed out how he had me taking two hour rides out to the south side -- on the abysmal public transportation system -- to do the south side program's office work. There are four support staff persons in place over there. "I've been running around for years," he retorted. "You're driving a car," I thought. I practically hung up on him.

The rest of the day went downhill, as I developed a headache and my lower back throbbed for the rest of the day. At four o'clock, I'd had enough. I left Les an email and a voice mail on his office phone that I was going home. I had no interest in actually talking to him live. He had already raised my blood pressure once that day. I wasn't going to go to the gym, but I had a chance to rest for awhile after I got home. Besides, I knew I had to take my bag out of the locker. The handwraps and scarf I wear in the gym had to be washed. Good thing I decided to go, because the heavy bags were perfect for me to take out my frustrations about work on. Memories of Les' smart aleck comments that morning fueled the hardest punches I could slam into the bag. If Les thinks I'm so damned incompetant and stupid, why does he keep me around? Obviously, I wouldn't have lasted at my job for six years if I wasn't doing things right most of the time. Unfortunately, Les excels at saying the wrong damn thing at the wrong damn time. Then he has the nerve to get an attitude because I have an opinion. I'm not about to make it my problem that he has a problem because I speak up.

Jordan did a sparring drill with Nick. Nick accidently poked Jordan in the eye. Jordan complained about it, even though Nick quickly apologized for it. Jordan wouldn't let it go. He kept grumbling about it, even after the sparring drill was done. Steve and JJ told Jordan that such things happen in the ring, and that he has to get used to it. Jordan didn't appear to be satisfied by what they said. I wondered what is Jordan going to do when he gets hit in a full-on sparring session, or in a real match? Whine like a little kid?

I noticed that Peggy did not come in on Friday. Deb wasn't there either, but she told me on Wednesday that she had another committment that night. Dan came in, and I was glad. I thought I had scared him off with talk of the past knockouts in the gym.

Arin and I worked on the pads. I really like her enthusiasm for wanting to learn technique. She told me the other day that she wanted to work on her footwork more, too. Overall, it was a very good workout, which once again, was something I needed.

The exertion made me feel better physically, but not emotionally. The disagreement Les and I had still ticks me off. I don't like to get angry often; I have a temper, and it takes days for me to cool off. It takes an even longer time to forget the arguement. That's never a good thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter Newcomers

Peggy, Deb, Carla, Dan, and Jordan's friend Paris made up the newcomers last night, which was the beginning of the winter session. Steve had them doing some cardio exercises, and Paris groaned about his ankle and Achilles' tendon not being able to take it. This is the guy who was talking about becoming a professional boxer, even though he's 45 years old and has never had an amateur bout.

I'm not too sure about how long the other new people will hang in there. I told Dan about the time Erin (who returned to the gym last night) nearly knocked me cold during a sparring match. I also told him about the time JJ laid Sadiq out in the ring. Dan seemed like a quiet, retiring guy. I hope I didn't scare him off. I offered to give Peggy and Carla some old handwraps I have, since new one were delivered to me at work today. The two of them thanked me for the offer, then gave the impression they wanted to see if they really liked the gym enough to continue with it. Arin, who also came in last night, assured them that people in the gym were not "jerks" and cool people.

Keith told me all he wanted to do was fight. How many times have I heard him say that? Later, Steve revealed that Keith was talking about getting fights again to him. I had told Steve a few weeks ago when Keith started coming around again that was probably on Keith's mind. The Golden Gloves is not that far off, after all. Steve's not interested in going around and around again with Keith over the latter becoming consistent and focused in training.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Going For It

I emailed Steve last Wednesday afternoon to say that I would like to apply for his job. I mentioned that I may be a long shot for it, depending on who else applies, but it's worth a try. He told me when I got to the gym, that he and I would have to talk to Mary, the fieldhouse supervisor about it, and I'd have get an application.

Les had me come out to the Englewood site two days in a row, both Thursday and Friday. It's a major pain to get there: two hours on three trains. Some of the staff people there pointed out that I always look irritated when I get there. Well, anybody would after such a long commute, and add the fact that I don't like going out there very often. He's out there for the duration, since there are no plans to replace the director who resigned back in November. A restructuring will take place to cover that position sometime soon. I'm hoping a restructuring doesn't mean me having to be out at Englewood on a permanent basis. If I get Steve's job, it would present a problem, as well as incoveniencing me in the other things I do outside of work. My time is valuable, and I can't spend most of it on long commutes every day.

On Friday, Terrell came in. It was the last time before he returned back to college. He told us he'll be back in late spring/early summer. Jordan was still making noises about sparring. I wondered how many times Steve will have to tell him to put in a decent workout. I overheard Terrell telling Jordan about doing three rounds at each station, too. Whether Jordan actually starts doing a full workout remains to be seen.

My right shoulder and right knee were bothering me. I volunteered at the annual roller skating party for the foster kids that the agency I work for deals with. That was on Thursday. The DJ put on "You Can Have Watergate" by the JB's, one of the many songs by the James Brown-fronted 1970's band that is played constantly at predominately African-American rinks. I skated wildly, took a corner too fast, and fell on my right side. I tried to fall correctly and be slick about it at the same time, but it didn't work. As usual, I only felt a sting and nothing else. Of course, I felt it the next day.