Recipe for Success

1. Humiliate yourself by crying whenever anybody asks you how you did on the first day of the tournament; spend at least an hour when you get home weeping about how life is meaningless and you don't know why you keep trying.

2. Do lots of Facebook quizzes to try to figure out who you "really" are.

3. Drink two big glasses of champagne so that you get a headache from having been crying so hard and so that when you fall asleep, you wake up almost immediately and can't get back to sleep until almost dawn. Watch The Matrix (1999) and wish you could see The Code.

4. Spend the wee hours of the morning reading webcomics about mad rabbits, neurotic cats, and sexy skunks.

5. Wake up after only two hours sleep (if that), pack your still unwashed uniform and then drive in the rain for an hour and a half wondering if you will run out of gas.

6.Change weapons from foil to epee, but tell yourself that you're actually really a foilist; you're just fencing epee to help your point control in foil.

7. Warm-up with as many of your opponents as you can; be impressed at how good they all are.

8. Tell yourself you will probably come in last but that's okay; this is just for practice. And it isn't really your weapon either.

9. Fence each bout to get as many touches as you can, but not to win. Win 3 out of your 5 pool bouts and your first D-E to make top 4.

10. Open your eyes wide (thanks, Ed!) every time you feel your concentration slipping.

11. Know the rules about how many fencers actually qualify per event.*

12. Stay and see how well your friends do in their event.

*As it turns out, I actually did qualify yesterday for Div III Foil, just not Div II. I qualified today for Div III Epee, coming 4th out of 6, with one C (who thus doesn't count for Div III, only for Div II). It's complicated, but it turns out nobody yesterday knew what the minimum number of fencers was to qualify out of the D&Unders.


  1. I would argue that crying, when asked about the first day, is less humiliating in the long run than snapping like a rabid small mammal. I end up feeling I should apologize for being a bad sport, as well as a bad fencer. The perfect reply ("Oh, not so well, but it is good preparation for next time." Delivered with the proper air of humility yet lack of concern) is evidently beyond us.

  2. What was amazing was how the tears were more or less automatically triggered every time any body even looked the question at me, "How did it go today?" I could feel them popping out in great big drops before I even started trying to answer. You gotta laugh.

  3. Sometimes you just need to cry - it releases all the pent up emotions. Congrats on qualifying!


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