23 January, 2017

Reflecting on a busy couple of days

I'm taking some time between errands to reflect on Friday and Saturday. 

Friday started out fairly normally. I took the trains across town to our mission headquarters to continue working on improving the content of our OMF Japan website.

I got back to our neck of the woods at 3.30 and stopped on the way home from the station to buy some onigiri (rice ball) and inarizushi (sweet rice ball stuffed in a fried tofu skin) for wrestling the next day. 

After I arrived home I had an hour to prepare dinner for later (bacon and corn soup into the slow cooker) and get to a meeting at school about the Seniors' trip to Thailand in March. Only one boy was home at that point, so I chatted to him about his day too. 

I ended up not learning much at the meeting because David has been on this trip a couple of times before, but I guess I'm glad I went anyway. Then I rushed home and put the finishing touches on the soup by the time our eldest arrived at six after training and we quickly ate. Somewhere in there I fitted a shower in too, knowing it was going to be a late night!

The finale at the talent show, with all 53 seniors on stage.
We left at 6.30 for the 7pm Senior Talent Show, an annual fundraising event put on by the seniors. It is pretty much always excellent and a "talked about" event for many days/weeks/years afterwards. Our family still reminisces about certain acts in previous years. But this was also a "culminating event" (as one American-Japanese friend put it). One of the "lasts" in our son's high school career. 

It was indeed an enjoyable evening. When you know most of the performers, that makes it even better. I particularly enjoyed a parody on the famous Japanese Algorithm March.

But the evening was late. We didn't get home until 10, and faced an early-ish start the next day for another long day of wrestling. Additionally I was feeling the pressure of another magazine issue just about ready to go to the printer, but with a design team needing my eye to go over it one more time. I managed to read though 20 pages on my phone during the 2 1/2 hrs on the train on Friday, but still had 20 pages to go. So I printed out the rest, thinking I might look at it during quiet moments at wrestling the next day. While I was doing that, another wrestling mum messaged me, asking advice about getting to the on-US-base meet the next day. We ended up agreeing that her van could follow me in our full van. 

Then to bed. But it was hard to relax and late before I finally dropped off. Then I woke an hour earlier than my alarm, as I often do on wrestling mornings. David was up before 5.30 and that was enough to disturb me. He was driving the high school team. I ended up running late, though, but we still arrived with plenty of time to spare. 

And then it was continuous wrestling from about 9 till after 5. With 13 schools, each with up to 13 wrestlers, it was quite a crowd and we were really squished into the bleachers. The wrestlers came, mostly from US bases, from across Japan and Korea. Some slept the night in the gym! The meet is an annual event and is aptly named The Beast! It really is a precursor to the big three-day final meet in Korea next month (called the Far East Wrestling Tournament), because almost all the same schools are there and it's the only time that happens before that. Hence this is a very important because it is a place to see almost all the contending wrestlers. 

Our son had his two hardest bouts first and came through with wins, which was encouraging. But you never know what's going to happen, so that keeps things on edge the whole day!

This was in the middle of our son's hardest bout, the guy
he's wrestling ended up the silver medal winner. It is
the same guy he's wrestled several times in the last two
seasons, and all of them have been hard. This move is
called a "leg lace" and looks like a "crocodile roll", the
goal is to roll your opponent over and over. Everytime
their shoulders are "exposed" to the mats the one in control
gets two points. This is how Callum lost three times to the
Far East champion last year. It is painful to be
on the receiving end of.
Not to mention that we were getting periodic news from and about our other wrestler who was battling things out at another meet, in another school. He didn't have the day he'd hoped for, but thankfully we were able to talk to him to help him through his disappointment. 

Can you guess how I went with reading through the magazine proofs? Maybe I should have found a quieter place, but I could barely muster the intense concentration needed to read at this level of mistake-finding for longer than a few sentences. Actually there really wasn't anywhere else to go. Outside was blustery and cold and the venue we were in was just a gym, not much else. Eventually I gave up and reluctantly messaged my design team telling them I wouldn't get to this until the next day. 

Four of the five CAJ mums that were there supporting our wrestlers!
At that point things were heating up at the meet as we headed into semis then finals. What was disappointing was the number of guys in our team who didn't wrestle as well as we would have liked, that hurts. It's not just our boy we enjoy watching, we barrack for all of the team members and seeing them sell themselves short is sad. 

We had a good number of parents there too, being one of the closer meets to CAJ. That made for an even more enjoyable day. Especially for us mums.

The trophy and medal.
But our son made it through all his matches all without loss and I could hardly believe it when he won that last match, making him "Beast of the East champion" for his weight category. 

It seems a bit of a dream that he is succeeding like this this year. After weathering disappointments over and over in previous years, it's taking some digesting. I'm so happy for him, he's worked hard for a long time. Make no mistake, this is a tough sport. I think the hardest is mentally. In training he is regularly pushed to the point of being overwhelmed. So this success makes me emotional. 

But wait, there was more. After all the medals were given out there was one thing left on the awards table, a large trophy. We assumed it was a team award, but had been specifically pre-warned by the home team's coach to be ready for a surprise. Our son was named Outstanding Wrestler of the meet, an award voted on by the coaches. There were so many very good wrestlers there that I find this award coming to our boy quite amazing. 

But oh so proud!

And it means I'm looking forward to our trip to Korea, even more. 

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