Thursday, September 9, 2010


I finished Packing for Mars by Mary Roach last night. Going to space has about as much appeal to me as scuba diving--zilch. Big spaces in 3D kind of freak me out--and space is a LOT of That said, this book was fascinating and frequently hilarious. (I got reprimanded by Mr. D for laughing too loud in bed and was asked to leave the room more than once.) Space travel and the science behind life in space runs the gamut from "how do you eat in space?" to "what happens if you fart in space?" The issues presented by gravity--or a lack of--make everything different. Mary Roach includes footnotes and commentary displaying a sense of humor as warped as my own. She asks questions about every. single. part. of space travel's history--training astronauts, choosing astronauts, what propelled chimpanzees to Outer Space (more importantly--the less-publicized chimps in space who didn't successfully return), what does one do with Waste in Outer Space. Then she takes those questions about space travel and extends them to the Big Question: What would it take to travel to Mars? (500 days for those of you wanting to know--that's round-trip, including a 4-month stay.)

I finished this book with a new admiration for people with the curiosity and passion to shoot for the moon (and beyond)--and for all the work involved. When you know something more intimately, you tend to appreciate it more, and thanks to Mary Roach's out-of-this-world investigative reporting, I have a rich and complex grasp of the history and logistics of space travel. NASA owes her big time for writing this book.

That said, going to Outer Space isn't for me.

Gravity is my friend. I'm a grounded person, stable, balanced. I like the solid feel of earth under my feet. For this reason, I have terrific balance. I can hold yoga poses on one foot for minutes without toppling over. I can execute dozens of kicks without setting down my foot. I can literally sense the pull of gravity from the Earth's core through the sole of my feet and channel it into a solid foundation all the way up to the crown of my head. When people talk about "elements" and "signs," it never mattered that I was born in February, I'm an Earth girl. My chis, chakras and Chaka Khans line up along rocks and mud, Fire and Water and Wind do not make up my Essence. This gift is to my advantage in yoga and in karate.

Except, the pull of gravity won't let me go.

Flipping, jumping, cartwheeling across the floor XMA-style is simply not an option for a gal as connected to the floor as I am. When a karate form like Velocity involves a "turning jump spin kick," I've got a 50% chance of landing on my butt. When gravity is your friend, buoyancy is a distant acquaintance.

The other day we learned a new kick in class--a crescent kick. Kind of an inside kick, very awkward feeling. Behold the Master, Bruce Lee in this video clip demonstrating a crescent kick (it's his first move in this scene):

After perfecting the kick in class (which felt a lot like goose-stepping), Mr. O instructed us to now do a "turning jump crescent kick."

Huh? No way. I can't do a "turning jump spin kick," how would I be able to do this one?

People, I could! The single turning jumping kick in the entire catalog of karate moves that I can master! At first I was convinced I was doing it wrong. It felt too natural, too easy. But I was performing it perfectly and even a little gracefully. Heck, I even had a little height in my jump.

One move that allows me to defy gravity. And if I could figure out how to post a video I'd show you. Someday, people. After I wrap up my manuscript and ship it off to my agent and clean out the potager, I'm going to learn and fulfill the promise to demo some karate here. But for now, observe the "turning jumping crescent kick" and imagine it's me, not some random guy.

Spill it, reader. What have you learned lately that surprised you?


  1. please show a video of you doing a kick. you make me laugh!

  2. Wow! Your successes with karate impress me greatly!

    You already know what I've been learning lately that has me pleased -- running.

  3. "When gravity is your friend, buoyancy is a distant acquaintance." One of the single best lines of text seen in a while.

  4. How much money I can make tutoring!

    You seem to have mad karate skillz, indeed!

  5. First of all, congratulations on your aerial manuever! I'm sure I wouldn't be able to manage any of them...even with practice.

    I'm also not at all enthused about any sort of space travel. I think astronauts are pretty darn gutsy. That said, I hope NASA is able to continue the space program...
    (NASA is right in my back yard)

  6. Today I learned about a Crescent Kick ;) I used to do kick boxing - nothing as trained as karate but it was fun and I never heard of a crescent kick. Now, I'm going to have to try it. :)

    And speaking of 3-D, I'm going to have to go see Resident Evil this weekend.

  7. I agree with the others; let's see a video of you doing the kick!

  8. I can't wait to see that video - gravity can keep a person down only so long when they have karate moves like you!

    What have I learned lately? I tried yoga out for the first time this week and really really loved it.


Spill it, reader.