Went down to UCLA round 11:30am, there were LOADS of people. I took a head count of 22. King, Cliff, and Brian weren’t there though. I knew Brian was coming for sure (so he told me) so I watched out for him eagerly during med plaza warm up, but nope. I'd already seen Jo, King, Andrew, and Cliff since i'd been back, so he was the last one missing. Saw Shiloe though, whom I hadn’t seen since January :] He hadn’t progressed as much as I thought he would, he was still at about my level. But hey, that was a confidence boost for me, I had some one my level around to do things with :) Anyway, as we were leaving the plaza to head to the parking structure, I called up Brian to double check. “Come faster!” I yelled at him. “Wow, a girl hasn’t said that to me in a long time,” he laughed. ‘A girl’s ever said that to you?’ I thought, but laughed too and hung up. The men in this group are ALL the same (and yet I love them). As we turned the corner towards the parking structure area, who was walking toward us but none other than Brian. “Jeez, that was like two seconds!” I called at him, pleasantly surprised as I walked over with my arms open. “I told you I was coming,” he grinned and gave me a firm hug.
Really there were too many people around for my liking. People kept getting in the way and standing around in crowds. It was inconvenient and made me more passive, I didn’t like all the eyes, the judgment. Too much anticipation, watching me as I waited for people to move. When Taylor showed up I got especially self conscious cause the guy’s so damn good and so damn quiet. I especially didn’t want to look lame in front of him cause his silence somehow makes him more sage or something :P. When King showed up everyone went over to greet him. It was pretty funny, like he was a celebrity or something. Brian helped me work on my turn vault so I could try to turn into a cat. Never actually did it, but I progressed.
Cliff met us on the walk over to the next place. When he saw all of us he made to turn and run; we were seriously a big group. Brian was excited by it, he was all pumped since the NBC thing. Cliff had these hilarious shoes that had toes. They were monkey gloves, basically. Or as King called them, a homeless guy's feet. Cliff and I actually were kind of on the same page for training after I took off my shoes for a ledge/fingertip walk and decided to keep them off for the rest of the day. We both had to pay a lot more attention to the pressure we put in our landings and the feel of the obstacles with our toes. Since I was completely barefoot though (and I have nearly no calluses) my feet were way more tender and sensitive, and things like twigs on the ground or tree bark would bother/hurt me. Climbing trees was suddenly a much more daunting task. I enjoyed it all immensely though because I read about how good barefoot training is for your feet, and the new level of interaction it gave me with the world was stimulating. I got to feel the pleasure of the warm cement as we walked from place to place, the scratchy edges of the bricks and the cool water of the fountain; it made it feel not just like Summer the season, but Summer the school break. I’d like to do a lot more barefoot training in the coming months.
After training around the campus, Cliff suggested we go to the field and do a set of stair runs. I felt incredibly tired, but I figured I could last a set. Most of the group had left by this point. It was me, Cliff, King, Mark, Brian, Jo, Rick, and Taylor. By the way, at some points Jo would disappear with Shiloe, leaving me with 20 or so guys. Most of the time it doesn’t even come to mind when I’m the only girl in a group of guys, but this was getting to be overkill. Especially when these Filipino/Asian girls kept walking by between the grass area by the fountain and their dance room (I guess?). The guys would try to make passes at them, but most often to no avail (and no response). That was entertaining. But it was around then I actually felt the minority of my gender and missed having another girl around to shake my head with. There were more girls training in Frisco, I realized. 'Maybe it's because the guys up there aren’t total dogs,' I grinned to myself. Andrea would be fine, if she could ever get the time to go out and train.
Oh, also also, Cliff had to help me down from a tree. It was the first time in a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time I’ve ever gotten stuck, but this one branch I had had to hop a little to get my foot up, and it was too scary to ‘hop’ back down; I didn’t think I could keep my grip. The branches of this tree were very wide and the bark was pretty smooth with no cracks; it wasn’t so much a situation of hand and foot holds as it was hugging limbs and pulling yourself up. He got me down by climbing up and pressing his foot against the tree so I could step on his ankle for a hold. He also had us grab each others wrists on one hand to steady me. It was a really neat trick, I was impressed. I would never have though of using another person’s body for grips (and was actually worried about hurting his ankle as I had to put all my weight on it :( ). He said he learned it from a rock climber he knew; when they ran out of grips they would climb up one another; I thought that was the best example of teamwork I’d ever heard of.
Ok anyway so back to the stair set. We ended up doing a couple of them, and just when I thought I was dead, King and Cliff started giving us loads of conditioning tasks to do. They were short sets though so it didn’t feel impossible, but they just never stopped giving us things. That is, until Cliff finally realized the annoying beep that had been going off every 10 minutes or so for the past hour was actually his pager from the medical center. Yeah, whooooooooops. He switched out his monkey shoes for his sneakers and ran there; the poor guy though, his legs must have been yelling at him towards the end of it (or not, thanks to adrenaline). King had us continue to condition. It was 6:45, but whatever. Still light out. These funny little birds visited us at one point. They had interesting band patterns and ran like sand pipers. Little beach birds :) I love socal. Soon enough I ran to go chase them off, and they made the most HILARIOUS call sounds that I chased them until they went into the field, where I could not follow because of grass restoration or something. They gave a good run and I hoped deeply that they’d wander over to us again. Indeed they did, as Brian pointed them out, and once again I ran them down like a raptor :D This happened a few more times, and I now love those little birds like crazy. I could actually keep up with their flight (which was only a few feet off the ground while I chased), and they were screaming constantly all the while, which made it exhilarating for me and most likely a heart attack for them. I’m pretty sure it was the same two birds the whole time because after the first time, when ever I approached within 20 feet of them they’d start yiping, loudly. They quite possibly hated me with every molecule of their existence.
Around 7:30 we quit conditioning (I curled up on the track to sleep), and started walking over towards SUSHI. Cliff caught us as we were walking out of the campus at 8 o’clock, and we threw on jackets as the sun was finally leaving. Brain told me he usually didn’t hang after like this, but this time he’d told his other friends to fuck off, and that he was staying with us. I thought that was great and reminded him I hadn’t gotten to hang with him since January. “I know; you missed me,” he smiled, “it’s cute :)” Damn right he was, Brian was my first teacher and I’m always going to be very fond of the guy :] We ate loads of food at half the price because of their 50% off deals on a bunch of rolls, and it was very, very triumphant. All the time I was conditioning I’d been thinking, ‘I’m earning my sushi tonight.’
We broke up around 10:30 or so and headed off to our cars. I hugged almost everyone good-bye throughout that day as they left. The guys do this funny pound and then one-arm hug, which does look manly-affectionate, but since I’m a girl I get to go for the regular two arm embrace :] I accidentally ended up hugging Brian twice cause his car was still more in the direction of my car as we were leaving. The second time I asked him, “You takin another hug?” as he pounded Taylor and Mark good-bye.
“Damn right I’m takin another hug,” he replied, serious and everything.
I love my LA family.