Sunday, August 26, 2007

It's one of those gorgeous sunny cool German summer afternoons when all is well and truly well with the world.

The apples are ripening on the trees, and the leaves are hinting at a turn.

Got KGSR on the intraweb radio-thingy, got some marinated BBQ chickie on the grill with homegrown corn on the cob in its own husk, soaked in the sink and wrapped in foil. Got yellow squash with giant Chinese garlic from the Christian Turk veg shop down the way (they speak Aramaic with each other). I drizzled a generous amount of our precious Greek olive oil in the foil before I set the squash, pepper, rock salt and fresh basil in.

We're going to miss our September trip to Greece like crazy, but maybe we can go somewhere else and play in the water and bask in the sun. It's sad, but he's on crutches until he reaches full weight bearing, and that's 10 kilos a week to 95 kilos. He's not past 20 until this Wednesday. Not good for air travel or mountainous Greece. Bummer. Meanwhile we take walks on sunny days, and hit the local Greek place for retsina, mezediki, ouzo and coffee frappe.

My sunflowers are over 10 feet tall, the corn is producing several ears per stalk, and the yellow squash is pumping out squishies at a tremendous rate. I've been nibbling the sugar peas as they come out, so poor CG hasn't had a chance to stir fry a one. ;-(

The great stone fountain gurgles soothingly, our tiny city makes its evening noises and the neighbors wave and beckon and bring beer. Scooters buzz down the alley at odd, startling intervals. Not so loud as in Greece.

I got to reconnect with an old friend/mentor back in Austin.. I had some "esplaining" to do about our last few connections before I went into dysfunctional obscurity and left Austin. I had become really difficult to be around, due to my personal difficulties, and I'm not sure how many broken branches I left in the wake of my escape.

I'm truly sorry for each one.. some were due to standing in what I saw as my way, and while I ducked as much as I could, please try to understand that I was chewing off my own limbs to get out of a trap very much of my own making.

In my own life, this experience has given me deep compassion for difficult people. Often they are simply a symptom of their own difficult times. Well, yes, sometimes they are just assholes, but time proves or disproves that theory pretty quickly. I'm not entirely sure I've disproved that theory about myself, but I am trying to live a life which brings me joy and lets me be productive, and supportive of everyone around me.

Those who really could have stood in my way (dojo and blood family, mostly), let me go.

It's a hard gift to give, but they gave it. Wonderingly, bewildered... no one in my family had left Texas or even the US since my great-aunt Alice Shaw, who was married to Charles Major up in Indiana. They travelled extensively together, and my father still has the postcards from her to her grand-nephews.

Clara Shaw married a damned Irishman (John Dolan) went to Texas and got forgotten. Except that the Irish gene for social activism, writing, and banging on things until you get something done, didn't go away.

I'm trying to give up the "banging on" part, and learn to step back, gain some perspective, and let go when I need to.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We got to play with an MMA guy the other day. Very young fellow, reminds me of a particularly aggressive hobbit.
This guy could wind darn near anybody up who decided to play his game his way. I appreciate his trust, his generosity, his good manners and enthusiasm. I have enjoyed watching him play on the same mat while we were playing, and said so. I just love seeing joy in training in action.

I'm not a fighter, my motivations for training have nothing to do with competition, or even so much to do with kicking ass. I'm pretty sure this guy could knock me
over and wind me up, but I'm also pretty sure I'd be grabbing a piece of re-bar while he was going for the shoot... yeah I keep one in my office, thicker than my thumb, just in case.

What I've been learning has been about antiquated systems, weapons and principles. We wear weird pajamas, freaky culottes, and carry weapons not much used since the early 20th century. Not a long time by Asian or European standards, but by US standards it's too long to think about or find relevant.

The kid came over to instruct me several times (I don't mind this, he's so motivated and I'm curious) even though he was born when I was in high school. I've been doing budo of some kind or other since he was in kindergarten.

Still, he came over and taught me how to do this, that, and the other thing if this guy does this and then you do that and... I broke in on the monologue and said, "Dude, I am going to kick the guy in the head, smash his windpipe and run, not stick around and cuddle!" which seemed to be a new concept to a kid focussed on winning BJJ-centred, closely controlled grappling contests. I don't want to stay in contact with a stranger who wants to hurt me. I want to make them stop and break contact.

I like the "short and sweet" version of techniques, since they are so practical for the, er, non-complex like me. In this way, I enjoyed what he shared, but I just couldn't get into the various ways of getting all so on the ground with some big sweaty smelly oaf... my usual training partner is a prince of a guy who would give the late Raoul Julia a run for his money, so it's not normally a problem. My good friend and partner helps me train. The things I have to do to get his attention, would truly mangle a normal person.

MMA guy was trying a lock I showed that works great on my partner, and getting all wound up and bent over in it, and I stopped him (it took a minute) and asked him to look again.

I sat up on my heels (kiza) and showed the lock again (for aikido/jujutsuka, the shiho-nage pin with the elbow held distal and the wrist twisted distal with kime to the wrist joint) demonstrating that I was not just involved with the pin, but that I was also in "zanshin" and tried to explain the concept to him.

I was worried about this kid, I felt like he was missing something. I had read the stories about the bars in Fort Sill and how the locals had learned that the soldiers had been trained in BJJ. Locals would send one guy to tangle the main fighter up, and then everyone would gather 'round to kick his head in while he concentrated on grappling with their "fall guy". Soldiers were ending up in the hospital.

Soldiers these days face enough dangers from IEDs and cranial trauma without getting their fool heads kicked in because they are going for points instead of paying attention to reality.

We told him the story, and I showed him better posture and the importance of 360 degree awareness and the ability to reach your cell phone while in control of an attacker, and stay in control of the situation, not just the fight.

I'm not a fighter, I'm not tough, and I'd never in my life enter any kumite, shiai, or other contest. I rely on my body to do my work, and it's a damned stupid proposition for me to do anything to damage my body, and thus my income.

I can only hope that this middle-aged budo babe's experiences, along with some instruction from an old guy recovering from hip replacement surgery sitting on a physioball overseeing the training, and a younger, talented, wrestler-judoka with joints of vulcanized rubber, had some impact on this kid's perspective.

We call them kids, but these soldiers are facing tough situations and tough choices. I know the recent trend in military newspapers is to capitalize "Soldier" but for the ink and administrivia they spent on that, couldn't they have just paid them more, protected them better, and given them better benefits?

I'll do anything to help them out, and I found myself really speaking out, taking risks and confronting ideologies to try and give this kid an edge up, as I saw it. I don't have anything on the line, so anything I give is free.

One of the military credos is: "No good deed goes unpunished".
I'll take my punishment for this one.

Not willingly, but gladly.
If that makes sense to you, you get me.

My training has been about coming to terms with the fight IN ME, and has not much to do with anyone else. This point in my training is a new one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

You've probably seen over at ArxHereticus
that cg has lost his teacher. It wasn't exactly unexpected, even if the guy didn't even die of what the doc said he would die of 10-20 years ago.

I just want to share some memories...

Our meeting was some 7 years ago. I was introduced to him, before I met any other family.
I met a sawed-off, genial, flat-topped bulldog with arms like an orangutan.
I got tested in a walk with the Gordon boys (lots of respect, any shady characters making scarce) in front of downtown shop windows. There was a deliberate pause by a jewelry store window.
My interest in conventional jewelry is nil, and I was much more fascinated by the fossiliferous limestone the building was made of. CG accuses me of licking the facade, but I only remember checking it with a fingernail and trying to identify the critters demortalized in dolomite there.

At this point, Papasan was highly amused, and carted us off to a geological museum, where we had a blast "geeking out" about the geological history of Joplin and generally relaxing and having a good time.

In a later visit, I got to see his collection of art, sculpture and paintings. He had a clear and poignant hand.

I wish we had had one more visit... I would have liked to ask more questions, tell more jokes, and hear more stories.

But then, we never have them long enough, and we can never appreciate them enough, these icons of our lives.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Well we've gone and thought about it, and now we're dreamin'...

If we were to stay in Germany, we'd move down to Regensburg.. Chuck would work through the years I need to set up a decent business, and train to complement what I am doing, in addition to his marketing/PA work.

I keep reminding him that we are here on serious SOFA sufferance, and our existence is extremely padded by it. German taxes are punishing, though I think they might actually get something for them.

Anyway it's a funny little dream playing around in there in the Fantasy Destination game.

Nothing more than a thought.. but a dream that surfaces, must be looked at.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wow, talk about your weird mismatches...

But my colleagues who are physiotherapists make it work.
On the other hand, they are getting PAID to make it work.. I guess this is a test run and an education process. Many of my colleagues get their DO or whatever, and extend themselves that way.

Physiotherapy, if I understand the history from Travell and Simons, was originally developed to deal with the effects of polio. You can do the research there, and let me know what you find. I don't recall the reference, except for my Big Red Books (Travell and Simons medical reference) so let me know what you find, if you are curious.

Hubby comes home from hip replacement, and hands me a list of physiotherapy exercises. I don't mind this, and so far I've been politely hanging back until the medical folks are done with him.

He came to me with a kind of to-do list, and what I needed to do to help him get where he was going.

I was really touched.
Here's this guy who simply knows that I will not only do these things, but improve on them.
So far, I have added Pilates pulses to the end movements of his exercises, which I actually owe to my Yoga teacher. If they are good for dancers, they must be good for budoka.

The other thing I have added is correct movement, with my hand on the surgical site to check for "pulling" in the spirit of "put it where it belongs, and ask for movement".

So far I am very impressed with the things they have found to challenge him, a 30+ year veteran of budo.

I am also impressed with his embracing of the process, to get better and get on with his life.

It's the biggest job of my life.
I don't have an imaginary friend, but Whatever help me, if I ever get a bigger one.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I left a homesick and pouty man behind me today.
I hated doing it, but at the same time I knew that he wouldn't be acting that way if he wasn't feeling great and healing at the speed of light.

He's ready to come home, but I want the last days of his greatest vulnerability passed in a safe place. He's not impressed by the PT, but it's on his schedule and he does it. Physical things have always been easy for him, and he has a tendency to "take a swipe at it" and call it done, simply because that's all he has to do with most things.
The hard stuff, like consistency and habits, that takes more persistence. As it does for all of us. It's a focus problem.
In my own life, plagued with myofascial pain, physical activity kept the pain away, and has kept me from being as overweight as the rest of my family. I live in real panic of ending up anything like my family. It's a hellish motivation, and a strong one...

Our difference in approach brings conflict, of course. It's a matter of personal experience. I'm a detailed and dogged pursuer of success, and he tends to be able to finesse things rather quickly, and become disinterested and distracted after a certain time period. Naturally, he finds me impossibly stubborn, and I find him flighty. In other things, we are entirely too similar, but mostly, we complement one another in some very complex and comfortable ways.

I brought sticks and a dogi, and did my own practice until he was done with his PT. He came into the nice little room we had found (mirror, high ceiling, softish floor, wall of windows, perfect dojo!) critiqued, pointered and guided.
I accomplished my goal, which was to get a weapon in his hands before he left rehab. He was seated on a bench, making comments and demonstrating.

Honestly, the struggles of simply standing and becoming strong enough to move normally again are enough for even the most advanced of athletes, at this stage.

He's comparing his experience, and today he walked a few blocks through a German fest to my favourite (fast becoming our favourite) little Biergarten in Bad Abbach, der Zirngibl. I just liked saying it, at first, but there's more to love, like the quiet apple orchard and the weird city statue of a pair of legs with a big catfish wrapped around the top of it outside the biergarten gate.
Many talk about being completely helpless for weeks, and he stood up, walked out the door of his room, and back, the very first day after the operation.
Today he walked about 5 blocks. Slowly, carefully, but with less pain than he's had since before January.
I'm not sure if it's German cultural expectations, one of the best surgeons in the west, my CG's natural resilience or good loving care, but he's getting back into his game. At 50, he's perhaps more patient than he was half a lifetime ago... but the impatience of a strong man used to command of his body is a force only the man himself can reckon with.

For my part, I find myself more cowdog than sheepdog, as my quarry is big and impatient, and as he gets ever more on his own feet, it will be ever more easy for him to go astray.

My best hope is to just stand on the best path I can see and trot forward, because I know he wants to be with me.

The label for this post comes from a "state of the nation" email from a young friend of ours.
I don't do this out of some exhibitionistic desire to inflict my life on millions of people. Goodness knows, this stuff is going to bore the crapola out of 99.999... percent of people out there, unless they or their loved ones are dealing with a hip replacement, or do budo, or know us.

If you want to know why I do this, it's for love of the word. I love words, I love playing with them, and the greatest motivation I have is to talk about my life. I've gotten a lot of negative feedback about my writing, and some positive. As with my artistic endeavours, I write to please and challenge myself. I need a place where I'm not writing for anyone else. I need a place to just PLAY. I explained this in detail in my very first posts.

This is that place.
I do it for the love of the word.

I told our young friend Z "
Don't ever apologize for what you have to say. Just keep sayin' it."