The Young and the Redemption

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

[See Original Post here]

While I was hoping the next report would be from the other side, alas, I’ve enjoyed eight full weeks of quarantine here in West Anchorage. This is largely due to my own sense of caution; the Municipality of Anchorage is well into Phase 2 of reopening.

On the first day that restaurants were open, I stepped out onto my front porch and into the brilliant sunshine. I took a tentative step forward, breathing in the fresh air. As detailed in Episode 1, my main source of entertainment over the last eight weeks has been my daily hour-long walk through my neighborhood; my cardio stints come from the quick weaves and dodges to avoid my neighbors.

But the day restaurants opened, well that porch stepping had the added significance of being the possible first move into the world beyond my neighborhood. I could actually go to some destination, should I so choose.

The man in the next driveway was climbing into his car, and I cheerily waved at him. While not one to normally greet anyone, least of all my neighbors, I was overflowing with the spirit of goodwill for my fellow man.

He waved back, and promptly coughed.

I dropped my hand, scandalized, and scuttled back into the dim recesses behind me.

Every day now, I peer eagerly out of my windows, awaiting news of either devastation or recovery.

Nevertheless, this is the third installment of series sponsored by COVID-19, preceded by “The Young and the Restless” and “2 Young 2 Restless: Covid Drift.”

Updates to key dramatic subplots are included below for your convenience:

  1. Workouts – I’ve joined three fitness challenges through work. I’ve got seven blisters and two biceps to show for it.
  2. Karate – Someone circulated a rumor that my karate sensei trained the Karate Kid. This story soon evolved into he trained the guy who trained the Karate Kid. Latest version is that he may have seen the Karate Kid once. Bottom line, the sensei’s life continues to remain shrouded in mystery.
  3. Speaking of karate – I am due to test for my “yellow-orange” belt at the end of the month. Logistics remain uncertain and I am not sure whether a virtual test will be easier or harder than an in-person test. Most students advance to black belt (i.e. master ten belts) in three years. At my rate, I can expect to become a black belt in twice that time. I advance through life at half the speed of a nine-year old.
  4. Television – I determined it was time to tackle a movie with slightly more gravitas than Alice and Wonderland (the last feature film I watched in quarantine). Netflix had The Shawshank Redemption on rotation. I’d never seen it, had no idea what the plot was, and sat down to watch it with no advance research. Upon viewing, I became unduly morose, and spent 48 hours worried about whether there was any reasonable likelihood I would one day have to stage a prison break through a hole in the sewage piping.
  5. After a few comforting episodes of Parks and Recreation, I started Hollywood on Netflix, thinking it would be a cheerful cartoonish reimagining of post-war California. It is not; I’d say the early tone of the show is cynical at best. I watched the central character’s employment struggles for about fifteen minutes, became unduly morose, and went back to Parks and Recreation.
  6. I thought a third venture was warranted, and went back to that tried and true genre of British period soap operas. Julian Fellows of Downtown Abbey fame debuted a new show over the Easter weekend and I tuned in. Sure enough, the first episode had a surprisingly affecting death scene, after which I became unduly morose and swore off new content for the foreseeable future.

Reports from the front lines both locally and nationally are promising, but with an added dose of whimsy. Women can return to beauty parlors, but cannot have their hair blown dry. Nail salons may take customers, but manicurists must wear the equivalent of a moon suit to protect themselves and their customers. Gyms can hold classes, but only outside.

In a nutshell: businesses may take customers, but customers should stay home.

Drawing courage from the relatively tame scene locally, I stepped onto my front porch for the second time a few weeks following my neighbor’s assault.

Again, I blinked my eyes against all that new bright May light, and glanced down at my phone.

Per the news, giant murder hornets have arrived in the United States.

I retreated again.

The Egyptians understood plagues, and darned if I wasn’t going to follow their hunker down example.

Sarah Brown delights in the outdoors. When she is not frolicking in nature, she can be reached at sarah@browns-close.com, and on Twitter @BrownsClose1. “Close” is a British term for alley or cul-de-sac.

The Path to Enlightenment at Okamoto’s Karate Studio

“Karate” by The Consortium is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

[See the Original Post here]

Six months ago, I began classes in beginner’s karate at Okamoto’s Karate Studio. I was about to turn thirty, and decided now was the time to take better care of my body than I had for the last ten years.

I am one of three adults in my class; the other two adults are parents of fellow students. Average age of the students is seven and three-quarters. Naturally, I stand out a bit.

Nevertheless, thus far, I have made one friend, Mary. Mary, a distractible second grade, is generally a naughty student. Instructor Shane takes your belt away if you misbehave in class, and her belt has been under a constant state of threat since I’ve known her.

Mary is very concerned about my social and financial wellbeing. Every day I come to class, she approaches me with a look of polite worry.

“Do you have a mom?”

“Yes, I have a mom.”

“Why doesn’t she come with you?”

Most seven-year-olds were accompanied to karate by their parents.

“Well, I drive myself.”

Mary nodded somberly.

“Does your mom sign your papers? Does she pay for your lessons?”

“Well, I’m an adult, so I sign my own papers and pay for my own lessons.”

That allayed her fears for about two weeks. Then she saw me walk into the locker room with my karate gear in a trash bag.

All of the children have fancy embroidered gym bags that say, “Okamoto’s Karate Studio.” I, however, refuse to buy into the trappings of branding, and am content to carry my items around in a white plastic bag the way God intended.

I loaded my garbage sack into my cubby, when Mary tapped my leg.

“Why don’t you have a bag?”

“A bag?”

Mary pointed to the column of identical red and black bags in the cubbies.

“Oh, a gym bag? I didn’t buy one.”

Mary frowned.

“Did you not want to spend the money? Wait…”

She trailed off.

“Do you have money?”

I considered her question. My wealth, or lack thereof, struck me distinctly relative.

“Um, yes, I have money. I just didn’t buy a gym bag.”

Mary looked unconvinced.

The weeks dragged on, and Mary continued to pepper me with questions about my financial stability.

“Do you walk from home?” she grabbed my leg, and once more regarded my trash bag suspiciously.

“Uh, no, I drive.”

“Really? Do you have a car?”

“Um, yes, I have a car. That would be a long walk from home!”

And last night at class, she sliced even more to my gut.

“Are you a mom?”

“Am I a mom? Well, no, I don’t have any kids. No kids or husband. Just me.”

Mary looked scandalized, and asked, “How old are you?”

Way to cut me down to size.

“I’m thirty.”

“That’s so old.”

Tell me about it.

“So you’re an adult?”

“Yes.”

“But you’re not a mom?”

“No.”

That’s when I was rescued by our resident Class Genius, a small girl who had just informed us moments prior that she had, “skipped first grade for some odd reason.”

The Genius scoffed at Mary.

“You don’t have to be a mom to be an adult! Not if you’re a girl!”

I nodded fervently in agreement.

Although, I must admit, I got a bit more than I bargained for when I started karate. While I’ve gained muscle, flexibility, and a lot of sweaty gear made out of rubber, Mary has also forced me to confront some uncomfortable truths. Am I an adult? Am I financially successful? Am I fully formed, fledged, and independent? Am I too old to learn a new (and might I add, very physical) sport? Is my personal and family life in order?

Gosh Mary. Out of the mouths of babes…

Sarah Brown is the most wizened, longest tenured white belt at Okamoto’s Karate studio. When she is not training to finally earn her yellow belt, she can be reached at sarah@browns-close.com, and on Twitter @BrownsClose1. “Close” is a British term for alley or cul-de-sac.