An Exercise in Thankfulness

I fenced a tournament today. I was pretty stiff this morning, not really sure I was at all up to doing anything other than skyving off for one more day watching puppy videos, but I'm going to a NAC this weekend in Pittsburgh, and I really needed the warm-up. I did only so-so in my pools in foil (2-5), but I fenced my first DE well (15-9, or maybe 15-8, I'm not quite sure). I did even worse in my pools in epee--seeded LAST after the pools! And, of course, I lost my DE, even though I did get some good touches in the end (10-15). And now I'm sitting here on the couch with a cat curled up next to me, thinking about how busy I'm going to be for the next couple of days because this weekend I didn't do my grading or class prep or anything other than the reading for my classes this upcoming week.

But--can you believe it?--I'm still glad that I went. Not ecstatically glad. I still hate fencing, and I still want to quit. But sort of soberly glad because, truth to tell, I did fence well today, just not outstandingly so.

I might have lost that first DE in foil; the girl I was fencing had, after all, beaten me in our pool bout. But I pulled ahead at the beginning and then, when she started catching up, I regrouped and actually (mirabile dictu!) listened to the advice that one of my clubmates was giving me. I didn't do exactly what she suggested, but I did give myself the space to find the opening that I needed to get the last touch. So that was a good bout. And I was able to listen to my clubmate again in my second DE and actually make one touch, if only one. My opponent there was an A-rated guy, not someone I typically manage to get very many touches against, even when he is having (if he ever does from my perspective) a bad day (he won the event today). So that was good.

I didn't actually think I was doing that badly in epee; I did, after all, manage to get at least one touch in every bout I fenced in the pools, some of them very sweet. But, as it happened, nobody else in the round managed to lose absolutely every bout (go, me!), so there I was at the end of the pool round, at the bottom. Which, of course, gave me the opportunity to fence one of the top fencers in my first DE (she had seeded 6th). At one point in our bout, the score stood at 3-10, but somehow I managed to get a number of good one-touches against her, making seven touches to her next five. So, I'm learning, right?

Sigh. Double sigh. The amazing thing is--the truly amazing thing is--I'm not really sure why I didn't end up in tears. I could have. I thought about it. I nearly did when I was changing clothes and bumped my ear, still tender even now after the piercing I got in May (not easy to heal when you're dragging a mask on and off every other day, despite the headband I've been wearing to protect it). But I didn't. Someone else did though (come to the dressing room and end up in tears, that is), and although I didn't really know her, I thought, "Here's your chance. Give her a kind word." So I did. And that was good, too.

Now, I have no illusions that this means anything whatsoever about how well I'm going to be able to keep my cool this weekend. But I am thankful that I stayed dry-eyed today, even after losing several bouts that I don't think I should have. One day, one day, I'll be able to fence as well as I know I can. Oh, but I'm quitting, right? Soon, soon. Just not quite yet....


  1. Bear! I am happy to welcome you to the club for the benthic depths of fencing--the Dead Last club. You are now authorized to proudly carry this poem
    In your fencing bag as proof of membership. And as a talisman against ever re-qualifying.


    The Grand Badgerissimo
    Founding Member


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