February 4, 2010
chewed up

I don’t sleep much more on my second night than I did on my first, so my second day starts early, at about 1 or 2am.  I cycle between Conrad and The Myth of Sysyphus and staring into the fan.   By 7 AM I’m too hungry to read—breakfast is served at 10, after morning training—so I put on sandals and walk down the street to the 7-11.  I buy a mini-snickers, which comes with a free Tigger stamp.  On the way back I notice a bottle of Johnny Walker Red standing amongst the curbside detritus, with two or three inches left in it.  I’m in the ring skipping rope at 8 sharp, even though nobody else is will be out there for a little while.

My whole body is sort of loopy from lack of sleep; I’ve probably managed less than 8 hours in the last 72, though my muscles are less sore than ought to be.  But the soles of my feet are raw, because the mats here are rougher than what I’m used to.  I do a few tentative kicks and feel the skin crinkle up brittle against the ground.  I can see at least three spots where it’s primed to crack and blister.  I go back inside and put on socks, even though I know the trainers will think I’m weird.  My balance seems off, too, but I don’t give it much thought.

I warm up half-heartedly, and then Sern wraps my hands.  He’s one of the trainers, and a giant, as far as Thais go, and he will reveal himself in the coming days and hours and minutes to be a fucking dick.  I get into the ring with Alex, a young Phillipino guy brought up in Switzerland.  Sern puts us in gloves and shinpads and tells us to spar.  I feel up to it for about thirty seconds, until I realize I’m not.  Alex’s boxing is more or less on a level with mine, but he’s fitter, and in any case my head is just not in it at the moment.   I keep it together for the first round, though he’s usually a step ahead and I take a couple of punches to the face, and some kicks to the body.  He also gets me in the balls twice, by accident—not particularly hard, but worrying—and when I ask Sern if I can go put on a cup he laughs and shakes his head.

By the end of the second round I’m too exhausted for any pretense of boxing.  I fall for every one of his feints, and I can’t manage to keep a guard up.  Jitti is watching too now, alongside Sern. They were boisterous at first, howling every time one of us landed a kick, but they aren’t now.  After the third round Jitti takes me out of the ring, and berates me for showing up so tired.  I feel like I’m about to cry, because I’m too tired not to.  He notices my feet are bleeding, and makes me put on my running shoes.  Then he has me do some pushups and wanders off. 

I’m feeling better by breakfast, which is chicken and rice and peppers.  There’s no question of any afternoon training, though.  Jitti makes all of us give him samples of our handwriting; he needs someone to fill in the names and dates on some training certificates he’s making out for someone.  But none of them are deemed acceptable, and the certificates go back in the envelope.  

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