Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Those nights… yes them ones

Tonight, I had the moment that had eluded me all these months and that I’ve documented rigorously as eluding me in this blog, I had some small triumphant moments at gymnastics.

I had not expected any. I was so exhausted I was out at the coffee machine chatting about social problems in the city with another of the coaches, who was eating a bar of chocolate. We were having a great auld gab. On my return to the gym, one of the fellas was slagging me for chatting and doing nowt. I teased him back in return.

It helped that I was working with a coach tonight who I haven’t seen since my first night return to the mats back a year and a half ago. It also helped that she’s a Newfie and even has the same name as my mother. (Perhaps I am more inclined to do what she says?). She’s a witty, warm woman and she’d a glint her eye as we negotiated my stumbling blocks. She was ready for my diversions. But “you could do it you see,” she was reasoning with me. She’d examine what I did and then insist … “hmmm you could do this…”

So new eyes, new ideas and new angles. What a great trio.

And a different surface. We were working on the flat floor rather than the tumble tramp. She set up a box arrangement for me to handstand on top off, then snaps legs down and under, push from shoulders back into back handspring. I had such a shock the first standing back handspring I threw for her assessment onto a “sting mat” as they call them. I had expected such a heavy drop onto my wrists, if my arms would even support me that far, instead I barely felt a thing and flipped over with surprising ease! It was almost polite as the plop of a vase of flowers onto the table.

Have I gotten stronger?! I don’t think so. If anything I am reduced in strength. Perhaps the humour, warmth and that glint of “ah but you could” carried me across whatever psychological mound was impeding and holding up the body.

Two other moments of note: at the end of the session a young man, adorned in a most impressive shirt with three penguins on it, informs me he’s a male Cheerleader. A what? Says I. And he gives me the history of male cheerleading and a name, I’ve  clean forgot of some group in Florida who be the best.

Another fella was holding a chain with a jade piece in his mouth, as he readied up for a tumbling sequence. “Is it the mother in me I said but would you not be a bit worried about that chain and your teeth.” No, he says. I’d hate you to damage your tooth. He then takes he hurdle step throws a sequence that included a straight back somersault almost up to the roof (his next was a double,  that was a double straight back! and then another at least a twist and a half). Finally he admits his granny gave him the necklace and the stone. “I knew it, ” I told him. “As soon as I saw it in your mouth, I thought only his granny could have given it to him, but didn’t want to say it.”  I love these little moments of revelation. The body may be coursing through the air like a well positioned kite, but the old mind is underneath it worrying about the luck of or damage of a granny’s gift.

Nights like tonight are rare, and rare is a fine thing while it lasts. As long as it turns up now and again, I’ll be happy to wait on the next innings. And will pay with the aches of it all manana. Good, necessary aches mind.

Rhotic intermission

Along the theme of collapse, my tumbling has entered a state of its own arrest. An unrecognizable slide backwards. A more useful slide would the powerful up and over and on momentum. The calamity is, as ever, in the linking moves. Independently the moves are rather dashing, but there just not much use if you cannot link them together. You have just that — — —–      — – —   instead of ____!______!__!_!_______!

I continue this beat of agnosticism. The physical reciting of prayer minus every third word.  Not exciting. Not compelling. A line of broken up despondency. Not even the despondency is consistent!

As detailed in my ongoing Rhotic titled “transactions” around and with the topic my iron levels are low and need to go from a number 11 up to a number 35. Except the iron supplements, even liquid, make me sick. I am officially blaming the 11 that needs to be a 35 for this arrest in progress. Once it’s a 35 I’ll have to concoct some other beauty of an excuse. But it will take consuming a field full of broccolli to drive it up. The fact of the matter is that after a period of exertion — and tumbling repeatedly even when you’re failing is just that — the body is like a JCB digger with no tires and no front or rear bucket. The bones do their clunky thing with insufficient votes from the muscles. Then there follows the supine protest. The flat pack obliteration.

The documentation arrived this week for our (Lori and I) performance art collaboration at Open Space.  They detail in the video projection … what now evades me.

Rhotic: 2.2

It’s the belting heart I remember most acutely.

Bang, Bang, Bang — in threes.

Therefore it is not possible that the departure of sweat presented as an announcement.

It’s not possible because nothing can announce over Bang, Bang, Bang.

Another hand ripping night on The Rings! Aside from the vicious assault this apparatus is on the armpits, hands and shoulders, it is a superb way to waste my time and a most unbecoming manner for an almost forty year old woman to hurl herself about each Wednesday.

But oh the progress. Aside from one disastrous entanglement between the two rope things which sent me whipping around like a demented, just shot, duck as I thought Christ I will never get down from here nor see the daylight again. I even managed to do the put your legs over your head thing from swinging and there I was hanging there, utterly amazed, pleading with the man beside me, er now what the hell do I do? Since I assumed I hadn’t done the move yet. You’re already there, says he. I confess I was quite terrified and again after an acceptable period said erm how the hell do I get down…

He’s terribly patient that particular coach. Otherwise my tutelage comes from one of the other young gymnast’s who is ace and shows me all these techniques that I am then unable to fully employ.

I was also learning front somersaults (front tuck?) on the trampoline, bounce, bounce up you go turn in air and wham onto this stack of mats, except the bounces and counting threw me & landing in that mad foam pit didn’t suit me. It is extremely torturous trying to get out of said pit when your legs are short and so I retired. I think I am not a woman for turning somersaults at this moment.

The back flip I am doing in threes on the tumbling tramp. At least one in every three is an epic fail. And one is just dandy. What’s interesting is the epic fail should come on the final one where you’re tired, but no the epic fail comes at any point in the sequence, which very annoying. And the epic fail always follows the really strong one. So much for momentum. And the problem with the epic fail is it absolutely rips the shoulders and arms of you. And that alone should teach one to throw it and land it properly. And it does not. And that is why it is an epic fail.