13 August 2006


Last week, I was in my Basic Cruising sailing course. Days 1 and 2 were superlative. Days 3 through 5? Sucked. I was angry, frustrated, close to tears most days. Not because the sailing was hard (although there was a small craft advisory going on, so yes, the sailing was hard), but because yet again, I am smacking my head into a wall. Hello wall. Nice to see you. Again. Damnit. See, here's the deal. I am a very small woman. And I have this propensity for engaging in sports dominated by large men. Large clueless men. Day 3 of class involved, amongst other transitional disasters, me giving a basic illustration about the laws of physics, center of gravity, mass and inertia of a 3000 pound boat, and the force of 10 knots of breeze at the dock. The instructor wanted me to hold our J24 to the dock by holding onto the shrouds. Which put my center of gravity directly over said boat, trying to still hold the boat to the dock against the wind. Needless to say, I failed. The instructor seemed to think it was a failing of mine. At least, his yelling indicated this. Unfortunately, even he had to bow to the laws of physics, once I calmed down enough to illustrate them. I could go on with stories. Suffice it to say, the instructor failed me. And now, I have to go back and do reviews until I'm passable. Considering every instructor has different nuances about what they want done, I may be there a while. Friday, I was a raging hysterical lunatic. I don't take failure well. I called the Bear on Saturday morning, and gave him the outline of my horrible week on the boat. He laughed. And said "Gee, we've never seen you here before, have we?" And there it is. Way back in college, when I was taking scuba classes preparatory to becoming an instructor, I was under the command of, well, a large sexist pig who felt that threatening my life (three separate times) was a perfectly valid teaching tool. Cue Chumbawamba. =) I got knocked down, I got back up again. Over and over and over. It was some of the harshest few months of my life. But what ended up happening was that one by one, I won every other person in the chain of command over, and they eventually stomped on him hard enough that he saw, really finally saw, what he was doing, and stopped it. Lesson learned, for him and for me. His lesson? Stop being such a misogynist prick. My lesson? My strength is legion, and my cause is righteous. Sounds a bit grandiose, maybe, but it's how I feel. Women had been flunking out of that scuba program for years, and until me, none of them had been willing to take on the whole thing and fight. Women after me, they passed. It was a great feeling. So on the drive back to sailing school on Saturday, I did what I should have probably done, oh, around Thursday. "OK, you Deity folks, what's my lesson? What am I supposed to be learning from this?" And immediately, everything eased. I actually smiled on my drive, instead of spending the whole 20 minutes choking back tears as I had been doing for the last three or four days (did I mention, I don't handle failure well?). The first person I saw at the school asked me flat out, "What happened?" And I could have kissed him. His implication, in tone and incredulity, was that it wasn't that I am a crap sailor, it was that circumstances precluded completion. The next three people I ran into asked nearly the same question in nearly the same way. And by the time I'd told the full story of my week, I'd managed to turn it into a fine comedic routine, complete with pantomime and gesticulation. I had two people literally lying down laughing. The instructor for my review was astonished at some of the things I told him, and was going to take it up with the instructor who'd flunked me. The instructor I'd had for the first few days was flabbergasted as well. Change is happening. I can feel the shift. And it's gonna be good. In the meantime, the school has a deal where if you don't pass, you get 90 days of free instructor time to make it up. So I get nearly three months of free sailing out of this. You just can't beat that... provided you go into it with the right attitude. "Tubthumping" is Shouting to Change The World (then having a drink to celebrate). It's stumbling home from your local bar, when the world is ready to be PUT RIGHT... I get knocked down, I get back up again. Ain't never gonna keep me down.


At 8/14/2006 01:50:00 PM, Anonymous Mom2 said...

Go get em Tiger. ;)

At 8/17/2006 10:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you fight, Laureen, you're doing it for us, and also for all our daughters. Thank you for ...what? Being yourself? Being bold? yeah, all of that. love, v


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