But it dawned upon me with the full strength of a shit ton of bricks dropped on my head from high above today that I was wrong; the realisation hit me like a sucker punch to the face when I was faced with the stark choice of Tennis or PhD, and there was nothing that I could do to prevent myself from choosing tennis. There was no reason to play tennis this morning with Jay given the following facts: Matt and I are playing at 4pm later today and I'd planned on working in the morning before that; I have not made that much progress on my PhD the past few days; I am going to Nice on Sunday; and I have to submit something to my supervisors on Saturday.
Did all of that matter when Jay said yesterday evening, 'Tennis tomorrow morning?' No, of course not. Oh sure, I made some show of thinking about it, went through the motions of considering it, but it was never in doubt that the answer was always going to be 'yes'.
Here's my Achilles' heel then: Tennis. I just can't stop myself from prioritising tennis after my PhD. It takes away more time from my PhD than dating. I play tennis more times per week than I see Matt, and I do these two activities at the same time of the day on the weekdays (i.e. in the evening) - and so I conclude that tennis is the problem, probably the thing that will prevent me from finishing my PhD on time.
This is just facetious, of course. Tennis isn't the problem; I am the problem. My time management skills, or lack thereof, are the problem. My lack of discipline is the problem. My entire being is the problem. I am my biggest problem.
But how to live without tennis? There's just no way. As frustrating as it makes me sometimes (most of the time), I love this sport. I love everything about it: the fashion (of course this has to come first), the elegance of the strokes, the individualistic nature of the game, the exhilaration after hitting the perfect shot, the exhilaration after winning a long rally, and the masochistic urge to do it all over again even after a shitty loss.
Tennis is the best sport ever.
I woke up today with most of my upper body in pain. I don't even know why last evening's session would wreak so much havoc, considering we didn't play singles and I wasn't even that tired. It's a sign that I'm really getting old, isn't it? My body takes longer to recover now. I suppose it doesn't help either that I don't do any stretches before, and merely go through the motion of stretching after.
I had a pretty good hitting session this morning, but I ended up spending way longer at the courts than I'd intended. The plan was to hit from 10.45 to about 12. The plan subsequently got massively derailed by a poor old man who fell and injured himself when he was chasing down a shot. I didn't even notice anything was amiss until I heard someone moaning in pain on the adjacent court while Jay and I were taking a break. Being the decent human beings that we are, we went over to help. The old man was there with his wife and two kids, probably adopted by their children. He was on the ground, his body weight on his left shoulder, some blood on his chin from hitting the ground. He was in obvious distress: a constant moaning, an inability to move, a suspicion that he'd dislocated his shoulder. He was 73.
Jay helped to call the ambulance while I stood around, tried to help but not knowing what to do. I thought the ambulance would arrive in maybe 5 to 10 minutes and we'd go back to playing...but the ambulance eventually took a whopping one hour to arrive. During this whole time, I spotted two ambulances drive down Chesterton Road which runs parallel to Jesus Green. I was tired of standing around and doing nothing while the poor man was down on the ground, stuck at the net, moaning in pain, so I chased after the second one when I saw that it was headed towards town. But I lost it when I got to town, so it turned out that it wasn't for the old man.
I was really pissed off by how much time it took for the emergency services to arrive. I mean, the old man wasn't in a life threatening state, so I would understand if the ambulance took 20-30 minutes to get there. But an hour?! How is this reasonable? If it had been my dad or my grandfather I would have started shouting down the phone at the emergency services operator, calling back every 5 minutes demanding to know where the ambulance was. They didn't even give an estimated time of arrival. Jay said that this was the result of the Tory government and their cuts to public services such as the NHS. How can anyone vote for a political party that would cut funding on essential public services? How can anyone think that it's okay for a 73-year-old man to be in agonising pain for an hour, unable to move, before professional help arrived?
It was actually more than an hour. It was an hour and fifteen minutes. We took a break at 11.45 and that was when we noticed what was happening. The ambulance arrived at about 1pm.
HOW RIDICULOUS. I hope that, if I ever need such services in Singapore, the response time would be much faster.
In the end, the professionals came and took care of him. I'd wanted to leave 20 minutes earlier because it was getting really late and I wanted to do work, but Jay persuaded me to hang around to hit for a bit. And because I don't say no to tennis...
I am so tired right now. My body is falling apart. It would be hilarious and humiliating if I lost to Matt later, considering 1) he hasn't played tennis in 8 years; 2) he'd never really played tennis to begin with; and 3) his fitness level is probably below mine. However, he used to play squash in junior leagues, which means he has good hand-eye coordination, and I'd already told him how to beat me (just get the balls back and I will self-destruct), so he does have a few advantages over me.
We met on Wednesday evening, had a discounted dinner at The Punt Yard (this is the advantage of going out with a guy who knows loads of people in the food industry), then headed over to the Brew House to play Scrabble. It was his idea - playing a game, that is. And since I'm shit at all kinds of board games except Scrabble, Scrabble was the obvious choice.
He was in the lead for most of the game. I even missed a turn when I shuffled my entire rack because my letters were completely useless. But I was more interested in preventing him from scoring than scoring myself, and my defensive game forced him to open up the board at a crucial moment - and so after I played 'FUB', the tide turned in my favour. In the end, I won. He'd got all competitive like he said he would, so he was a bit disappointed, but he accepted like a man and wasn't a sore loser about it.
He was so cute though. When he was winning, he said, 'If I win, I'm going to put this on my CV: Defeated Cambridge PhD at Scrabble.' At one point, he even asked, 'You're not letting me win, are you?'
AS IF I EVER WOULD?! I might let him win at tennis...no, I won't, but I'd probably play at 75%, depending on how good he is. But at Scrabble?! I hope he doesn't genuinely think that I don't think he's smart because that would be so far from the truth. As if I would let someone who says 'however' and 'epitome' and 'cumbersome' in normal conversation win at Scrabble.
In all seriousness, I wouldn't go out with him if I didn't think he was smart. I couldn't have any sort of conversation at all with him if he weren't smart. We had a great conversation at the Punt Yard about the interplay between nature and nurture in the context of why high level chess players tend to be men (this was prompted by my confessing that I have no idea how to play chess beyond the basic moves; no clue about strategy and shit like that). Of course, I don't talk about philosophy or my PhD with him, but that's been entirely due to my angsty feelings towards my PhD, and so I hadn't felt like wanting to talk about these things with anyone anyway.
On another note, I am feeling less angsty about my PhD these days. I think the worst is over. I don't think I can feel any lower about it than what I was feeling a couple of months ago. So...yay!
Lastly, US Open: I mean, I don't want to be greedy, I really don't, but it would so cool if Federer won his 20th slam. But what the hell were these five-set first two matches? I didn't watch the Tiafoe match because I was sleeping, but I watched the Youhzny match last night, thinking it would be a walk in the park for him to play someone he'd beaten 16 times in a row, but wow. I thought he was actually going to lose when he went down 2 sets to 1.
It doesn't really matter, of course, whether he wins the US Open. But it would be nice if he did. And so I hope his level improves because I honestly couldn't believe the shots that he was missing last night.
And Sharapova: OH MY GOD I LOVE HER. I hope she goes far in this tournament.