Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Physical Education

It is official. I love gym class. I always have. And I always will.

Today we moved on from the basketball unit, which I quite enjoyed, to the racquet sports. My eyes quickly gazed upon the square wooden paddles that are used in one of my favorire sports: pickle ball. Some of you know what I'm talking about. Yeah...that's what I'm talking 'bout. The gym teacher then asked me, "Do you have any experience with racquet sports?" "Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla...don't waste my time," is how I should have answered. Instead, I just said, "Yup." I looked at the tennis racquets, the badminton racquts, and the pickle ball racquets and all the memories of these sports I played in high school gym came back to me.

Running out to the tennis courts as fast as we could to get in as many games as we could into what was I think 45 minutes of a normal school period - a miraculously short time when the likes of athletic games with friends are concerned.

Then badminton - and the realization that badminton is no game to be played on lazy sunday picnics, but a game that deserves respect, to those that can wield the long racquet with finess and power.

And of course - pickle ball. The game that came out of nowhere, but captivated no less than a handful of us enthusiastic gym goers (some may have unflattering names for us) - saddened by the fact that gym class was only two days a week for juniors and seniors. (It just didn't add juniors and seniors we should have more priviledges than the freshman and sophomores, and we should therefore have more gym classes.)

Race out of class we would when we heard the buzzer and into the locker room. Shame on you should arrive late, or be slow to change into your gym clothes. Test or no test, we demanded timeliness. No strings on the pickle ball racquets, just wood, and a whiffle ball type ball. A small net and let the games begin...And now let the games begin again.

Warming up pickle ball style with a student, the gym teacher noticed our competence and asked if we'd do a demonstration for the rest of the class (the whole 30 student middle school). It was fun vollying back and forth and when we had finished our volly demonstration the teacher said, "That was really good." Needless to say, the student and I were quite pleased with ourselves.

My deepest respects go out to Ross - Rosco-pico-train, my partner in crime for most of these racquet games and other gym activites.

Prior to this day of gym, I along with the other teacher's aides had come to gym class, or "P.E." as some like it to be called, wearing normal work clothes. Today, though, I brought my gym clothes. As soon as the end of gym class sign is given, I raced for the basketballs for what has now become, for me and a few enthusiastic and talented middle school students - one of whom was my partner for the pickle ball demonstration - our customary series of wildly intense knock-out (foul lind and three-point line distance). Last Wednesday, I had not changed, and had to call it the series short, because I was starting to sweat, and was fearing repercussions from going to an hour and fifteen minute department meeting hot, sweaty and smelly. Today I was prepared to go the distance. And go the distance we did. Game after game after game. Legs burning, lungs aching, and the rest of me happy as a clam because of it. Sadly we finally had to call it quits, and to the coach's shower I went to take the coldest shower I could stand.

Life is good when gym class is all in a days work...and I think there may even be a floor hockey unit later on...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

D.E.A.F., Inc. Holiday Party

So into Allston I went to a D.E.A.F., Inc. holiday party. Always seeking opportunities to practice my sign language and to further get to know the Deaf community, in I went on a fine Saturday afternoon. I was nervous on the way in, not feeling confident with my signing and frustrated with traffic, but I kept on going and soon I found myself at the party, with a few people that I recognized. It was a low key gathering, which I always prefer, and there were several Deaf Blind folks there.

I sat down with my lunch next to a woman and across from two men. I had noticed that two of them were Deaf Blind and having never comnmunicated with someone who is both Deaf and Blind before, in my head I said, "Well, here goes..."

It was an incredible experience. I sat down and the woman quickly signed to her friend, that she wanted to know who was sitting at the table. Seeing this, I introduced myself to her friend, who then introduced me to her. She then put her hand out, palm down, and I put my hand just below hers, touching her palm. I signed normally to her all the while her hand resting lightly on my right hand wherever it went, feeling the handshape, the palm orientation, the location, and movement of my hand. She understood everything. Then she signed to me and when it was my turn again, she would put her hand or hands out. It was really an amazing. I later watched two Deaf Blind folks chatting. One pair of hands on top, then they would switch. They carried on like old friends, which they seemed to be, laughing and smiling and having a great time together. I couldn't help but smile along.

School continues to go well. Slow improvements come, but always I want more. My days are very busy and it seems most days I come home and go to sleep...then get up and go back to school. All the things and side projects that I thought I would have time for while spending a year at home are not getting done. They have all been pushed aside for the time being. All focus and energies go toward the language and the community. And slowly, ever so slowly, it's coming along.

Happy Holidays to all.