Day 1 Reflections

Today, the first day of the coaching certification workshop, played out like many of my previous workshop experiences. I learned a decent amount–well, not so much learned as had some of what I already know reiterated. I witnessed the usual play of egos: one participant who asked a question at every possible juncture (and some others); a few who were sure they knew more than whoever was presenting.

And just as in other workshop experiences, at times I had flashes of insight. Some had to do with adding coaching to my bag of tricks: a logo, a business name, and a plan (to be “boutique”). The biggest revelation relates in part to my writing here, to the horror I feel at seeming obsessed by capitalism, and the need for a nobler purpose. I love education, receiving it and passing it on. Can’t that be a noble purpose in itself? It might be one generation removed, but if I cultivate calmness and focus in my students (my clients), and then they use that for the common good, doesn’t that count? And given the kind of teaching (coaching) I’m doing now, could it possibly make a bigger difference than slightly helping freshmen write better, or sophomores meet a General College requirement by reading a few short plays?

Consuming Obsessions

I just washed dishes with bar soap. I’m at a Homestead Studio Suites hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. I ate Chunky soup and a decent asiago-cheese bagel from the convenience store for dinner, with some of the wine that survived the trip in my suitcase. There’s a kitchenette in my room, so the soup was hot, but the supplies are pretty basic–no dish soap, no complimentary shampoo, no Kleenex, only one roll of toilet paper, and Showtime instead of HBO. (But there is wireless Internet access.)

For someone obsessed by capitalism, this is really slumming it.

It was my first time on a plane since the summer of 2000. I made a friend at the gate, a businessman (wealth management, no less) who’s a runner and triathlete. He said of triathlon, “It’s so consuming!” (This was in a positive way, as he described his $2,800 Guru bike, which he bought after his first race.)

Yes, it is–this is why I’m in Florida, for a level-one coaching certification workshop for USA Triathlon. Tomorrow, I meet thirty-nine other geeks like me. Tonight, I try to sleep through the buzz of the air conditioner and the stench of the room deodorizer. At least the dishes smell clean.

Goals vs. Intentions

As folks set new year’s resolutions (the parking lot of the UNC Wellness Center, which I overlook from my home office, is overflowing), and as my friends and I set our goals for the upcoming race season (making sure to keep them measurable, realistic but challenging, etc., as all the articles tell us), it’s good to devote some time to intentions as well.

In yoga, we often set an intention for each practice. It’s not a goal, even though we might remember it again at the end of practice. Goals are end results, measurable by external factors. Intentions describe where you’re coming from. That’s what makes them so great. You can always instantly realign with your intention, and only you can decide whether you’re meeting your intention.

A good intention would be to approach others with loving kindness. (This is part of the Buddhist practice of right intention.) Other good ones are linked to the yamas and niyamas of the eight-limbed path of yoga–concepts such as nonviolence, noncovetousness, nonstealing. Another good one is to be patient. (“Serenity now!” doesn’t quite cut it; that’s a goal.)

Phew, I met my stated goal of not obsessing about capitalism. Did I meet my intention? That’s for me to decide.

Diamonds and Pearl

I wrote a post a few days ago by this title but realized it was complete evidence of my obsession with capitalism and pulled it. It contained my ramblings about the wonderful bike store in Cary and the amazing bike I rode there. It also detailed the saga of my beautiful Christmas ring from Wes, which began as a pair of lovely pearl earrings but then became a ring reminiscent of one my grandmother lost at the hospital just before she died.

A few days after the test rides, I’m eager to return to the store when a certain bike in my size arrives. (I’ve provisionally named it Pearl.) But the false sense of immediacy has passed, and I’m feeling less in need of instant gratification. The best thing about the fun visit to the lovely store was being there with Wes, who has his eye on the Dual in yellow and has signed up for his first triathlon. I’m trying not to be too excited.

Meanwhile, a very generous friend let us tear through a box of Ironman line clothing samples and walk away with our arms full. This really helps, since tri race outfits are horribly tight and ugly and cost outrageous amounts. With any luck, I’ll get Wes to pose in one of his new race suits!

So not only am I obsessed by capitalism, I’m obsessed with physical beauty. Maybe I can find something more toward the common good to ramble about soon.

The Need for Speed

We flipped past Top Gun last night on one of the myriad HBO channels. Though Wes insisted he has seen the movie only twice, he knew half the lines and remembered the order of the scenes perfectly. Jungian? A statement on the memory of an impressionable sixteen-year-old boy? I know it’s a truism by now, but I could not believe how homoerotic the movie is. It is so gay.

Starry-eyed after receiving an indescribably generous Christmas check (thank you!!!), I began dreaming of buying a triathlon-specific bike. I am not one of those folks who’s so well conditioned she could get faster only by buying a new bike, but it’s certainly possible to buy speed. Wes is doing a stellar job of channeling my enthusiasm, funneling my initial visions of a custom-made Serotta into the more realistic and (relatively) frugal Cervelo line. Their most popular bike is so popular that it’s never in stock. Tomorrow, I’m going to test ride the fancier model. Luckily, rational Wes is coming along to keep the purse strings tightly closed. I hope he will find a big luxury for himself (maybe at the great wine shop near the triathlon store) and use some of the money. Most of it is already in savings, possibly earmarked for a family beach vacation.

Ten Years Ago Today

Subject: Re: congrats
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 16:50:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Wes Rountree
To: billy hamilton

Billy,
I must tell you that I just got the ring and that I will be unable to
keep it for very long. My plans have changed, so I ask you for Sage’s
hand in marriage. Actually I will ask her tonight, but I feel bad that
I did not ask you earlier, yet I did not plan to do it this soon. Write
me back tonight if you see this.
Wessie

Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 16:55:56 -0500 (EST)
From: billy hamilton
To: Wes Rountree
Subject: Re: congrats

Hi Wes,

Great that I was on the net when you asked. The answer is a
resounding YES YES YES YES YES YES OH JESUS YES YES YES HELL

YES!!!!!!!!

That’s really cool. I have been telling Sage not to expect
anything. Apparently your tactics have been fairly successful.

Cindy and I are delighted. We love you. And Sage.

Go for it, Dude. I’m right behind you.

Love,

DAD

Happy Dirt Day


Lily’s fifth birthday was celebrated in style, with four friends, three family members, two games of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and one wild wagon ride, courtesy of Cousin Jay.

The Good Life

This week and last, I’ve been working on an academic journal devoted to English pedagogy. Half of it is highfalutin theory, and the other half is complaints that border on scorn toward the students. As I listen to my college- and law-school-teaching friends complain about stacks of papers and exams to grade, plagiarists to expose, and heavy courseloads to plan for, I’m reminded again of how good I’ve got it.

My yoga and cycling students want to be in class. They want to do the work. They like it to be challenging–in the case of the indoor cycling students, they complain when it’s too easy. When I look out at my yoga students and see a class full of blank expressions, or when I hear snores in Corpse Pose, I know I’m doing things right. The planning I put into the class is a satisfying use of my teaching training and experience. I have no grading to do.

And when I need some intellectual stimulation, there’s always the other teachers’ complaints to copyedit.

Bad Taste


Which of these cousins has the more offensive T-shirt? Depends on your politics and gender. Big, buff Cousin Jay is taking Team Beaver a little too far. Lily, in the bottom right corner, does not look amused.

We’ve Got Funk Spirit, Yes, We Do!

Two things (at least two things) have made us laugh in the last few hours. One was the ad, the Web site, and the concept of the Fathead, a large poster of your favorite NFL team’s helmet. Last night we were very close to getting them at Christmas gifts for Wes’s father and my mother, until we thought better of it this morning.

The other was the list of proposed names for the new high school to be built in town. The main debate is between those who want to name it Carrboro High, since it sits in Carrboro’s planning district, and those who feel it must have the name Chapel Hill in there (South Chapel Hill High, Chapel Hill South High) because of the prestige and association of education the town’s name confers. (One woman was quoted in the paper as saying, “What does one think of when told ‘Chapel Hill’? EDUCATION. What does one think of when told ‘Carrboro’? FUNKY ECLECTIC. . . . I want EDUCATION, not FUNKY ECLECTIC.”)

The best name on the list of all those proposed, though, is James Brown Funk Spirit High School. Wow.