Thursday, May 26, 2005

31 and counting

I turned 31 today. In a city that has ads for a hopped-up version of beer + ginseng [or something like that] which say "You can sleep when you're 30", I guess that means I'm now definitely on the downhill slope and picking up speed. Watch out, people below me, 'coz I ain't got brakes !

I got some very cool gifts:

- Christina's parents gave me comics, vintage-y ones, from as far back as 1972: "Mighty Mouse", "Sergeant Rock", "Mickey Mouse & Goofy" and "US 1". I've only had the chance to read "US 1", but it's one of the [possibly unintentionally] funniest comics I've ever read. It's about the adventures of one Ulysses Spencer [aka "U.S."], a long-distance trucker, who happens to have a "CB skull" ie a bunch of metal implants in his head that allow him to pick up CB radio. He also has a super tricked-out "rig", with flamethrowers, a recoil-less cannon and all other kinds of good stuff. In the course of this story, he happens to come across an alien who speaks in CB lingo ["good buddy", "breaker", "what's your handle ?", that sort of thing] who needs frozen chicken parts [which U.S. happens to be hauling] to repair the "organic-integrated technology" that powers his spaceship. This thing had me howling with laughter. Somebody at Marvel must have been smoking some good weed when they approved this. [There's a synopsis of the whole storyline arc of this comic here, if you're interested].

- Explanatory digression: as a wee lad, I used to enjoy two things: jumping off stuff and water. The former meant that I used to give my gym teacher fits because I kept jumping off stuff when she wasn't looking and the latter meant that I spent lots of time at the public pool. Then I discovered the joys of putting these two activities together: jumping off stuff, into water. In other words, jumping off a diving board. This, in turn, freaked out many a lifeguard; once, I had to swim a couple of laps of a pool to convince a lifeguard that it was ok to let me, a 6 year-old at the time, jump off the 5m platform.

If we'd stayed in Germany, I probably would have taken up competitive diving. As it is, we moved to Ghana, where the opportunities for that are ... limited, shall we say. A more blunt way of saying it is that there are no such opportunities; at the moment, I don't actually know of any pools in Ghana that have diving boards. That said, when I was in high school, my friend Bernard and I used to skip physics class [the teacher sucked], go to the one pool that did have 1m and 3m boards [which has since been closed], and try out whatever dives we could muster up the courage to do. I got as far as being able to do a double forward somersault off the 3m board by dint of sheer pig-headedness ie trying it until it worked, sort-of, in that I didn't land on my back or my stomach. I'm sure from a style perspective, it would have made a diving judge fall out of his/her seat laughing, kind of like the really bad auditions you see on "American Idol".

Anyhow, after high school I pretty much forgot about it; never took any lessons in college, or even really thought about it, for the last twelve years. When we came to Boston, I noticed that the MIT pools had open diving sessions a couple of times a week and talked about maybe checking them out, but never actually got around to doing so. Until today.

[Whew, that was a long digression]

Christina got me a set of private diving lessons, with the assistant coach of MIT's diving team, as a birthday present. Today was my first session. And, as usual, that stuff is harder than it looks. And I'm not even talking about all that fancy, twirly stuff in the air -- I'm talking about just the proper takeoff, which was pretty much all we worked on for an hour. Turns out my brute-force approach of jumping onto the end of the board with all my weight and then pushing off as hard as I could isn't quite the way to do it; instead, you're supposed to let the board do the work, with only a gentle assist from your legs. And there's a whole set of proper arm movements that goes with it, too, as well as torso positioning, to make sure you have proper positioning once you take off. Trying to get all that right -before- even taking off meant that by the time I was finally in the air and thinking about what dive I was trying to do, it was almost too late, which made for some pretty comical "dives".

In any case, it was an awful lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to my next few lessons. Maybe I can finally learn to do a double forward somersault with decent form.

- "Highlife" music from Ghana, from my parents [which hasn't actually arrived yet, but I already know what they're getting me =)]. Very few things remind me of Ghana as much as that kind of music does, and I only have one highlife CD, which my brother happened to forget when he was visiting. And there are only so many times you can listen to one CD. It'll be nice to have some new stuff to listen to.

Besides the gifts, the rest of the day was pretty cool too. Christina and I went to dinner at a good Italian restaurant in the North End and then came home and had some of Christina's kick-ass cheesecake, after which we sat back, held our bellies and groaned about how full we were, but how very good it all was.

All in all, modulo some rough patches, it's been a pretty damn good year. Here's hoping the next year is even better !

2 Comments:

Anonymous Charlotte Reid said...

Alex,

A very very happy birthday to you senor. It's been a long time since our days as young t-dashes at The Soft. I'm very excited to see things are taking off & going well for you and Christina in Boston. Live it up my friend. It's well deserved.

Hopefully you'll have some time and we can meet up on my next trip to BeanTown. Once again Happy Birthday and I hope you enjoy the rest of your celebration (which once you reach the age of 29 should be extended to last a total of 30 days). Oh the damage that has been done. Cheers!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Lori and Paul said...

paul and i wish you a very happy 31 years. maybe we'll send you some speedos in gold lame for your next dive lesson. l, lori, paul, claire and william.

12:06 AM  

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