Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'm beginning to stumble on the need to meditate. 
It's a little weird.. but without a lot of training, I find myself missing the Zone. 
In a hot bath, last night, seeking that Space, I found myself deep in my debt list. 

There are so many, who have stepped in and brought me forward. 

You know, I get it about me. 
I'm a butterfly train wreck, I'm a collection of talents and interests, brought together in a deeply physically, and even mentally limited, package of boundless curiosity and ambition. 

The great divide, within me, is that ingrained Texas awshucks/self-deprecation and the steep ambition of the powerfully dominant personality which allowed me to take my own path in martial arts and other endeavours. I really am the egomaniac with the inferiority complex. 

My task is, to balance this with a realistic understanding of my environment. 

The last decade of my life has been a nonstop cascade of leaps & bounds in terms of personal, social, intellectual, physical and emotional development. 

Over ten years ago, in June 1998, I passed my black belt test for shodan, first degree black belt, in aikido. 

It had been about ten years, since I started the effort. I was deeply ambivalent about the group I was training with, would rather have been doing another style, and lost a judge's vote to the opinion that I was doing that, rather than my original style. My partner was from that style, not my own, as my own choice had not been able to attend the testing event. 

The fact that I adapted, should have meant something.  
The dissenting teacher ended up leaving the style anyway.. 

I was very close to one of them, and terribly fond of the other (dissenting one notwithstanding). 
The dissenter really helped me form my opinions, and for that, I'm grateful. I bear no ill will. I don't care. I'm on to the things that really matter to me now. 

That's the vital thing. I'm on to things of vital importance, for me, for my interests, for my passions. I want to know how bodies work, in all things, in all situations. I want to keep and learn some old traditions, because they improve me as a human being, because they challenge me, and make me happy. I am never happier, than when I am wielding weapons of great grace, precision, & lethality. 

A teacher new to me, quite a good one in SMR jodo, actually apologized for telling me to "back the motherfucker up".  Well, we are still getting acquainted. He doesn't know that I have chased Charolais bulls with nothing but a bullwhip and a good dog, shot , killed & eaten rattlesnakes (got a nice belt to show for it)  killed rats with a hard boot, and rabbits & chickens to eat. 
Most people never have these experiences, and waltz into budo with no frame of reference. 
I grew up in a culture of responsible gun ownership, felt comfortable in the military framework, and find classical Japanese martial arts a rational way to relate my relatively Paleolithic personal life to the rest of the world, in a strategic manner. 

There is a kind of laugh, when you get exactly what you want. Involuntary, delighted, like when sleight of hand really surprises you. 

That's what I go looking for, in budo. 
I need to test myself, I need good, no, great friends to test myself with, in a safe, sane & supportive environment where we won't hurt ourselves or each other. I need it, I need to be here. Early & often. I need to test and be tested. 

My teachers got me here. 
If it works, why not rely on it, to work for me. 
Because the people who care about me, made it work for me. 
The are all still here, holding me up, getting me there. 

I never stopped feeling any of your hands, holding me up here. I am still listening, I am still studying, and I am still unapologetically doing the work I am here to do. 

My "house sensei" CG, Joe, Jim, Stephen, Brendan (you especially!) Andy W, Frank Gordon,  Mr Matl, Kregg, David H, Kawakami S, Kurt VQ, William B, Dan A, Dennis H, Jonathan W, folks at Austin WT, Greg and Guy, and some rei to those now gone: Bill Sosa & George Simcox.

My bodywork teachers include Tom Lang, Carol Shifflett, David Lauterstein, John Conway, Christoph Sommer, Pierpaola Volpones, Dorit Schatz, Peter Schwind, Alain Croibier, Tessy Brungart, Jane Harrington, Cosper Scafidi &... 

At the end of the weekend, I will be an Advanced Rolfer. Whatever that means. 
What it means to me, is that I have a lot to pay forward. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today would have been our 16th anniversary.

It was Valentine's day, 2000, when I walked in with bags of groceries, knowing I would be turned out the door hungry, determined to give us both, the gift of freedom. 

I looked him in the eye, a perfectly good man, and I told him that I wasn't happy, and that I had not been happy for a long time. I looked him in the eye and I did it. 

For the marriage, it's just kind of a bittersweet emotional cyst. It forms my frame of reference. 

My separation came with multiple trips without him, he was just too frozen in his ways to adapt to travel, and I had developed a taste for it.  I had dragged him along, but had come to the end of my patience with that. 

I was also realizing that the rest of the world, was healthier for me than Texas. Maryland seems to have junipers, but it also has a lovely spring. Cherries and pears bloom like pastel popcorn along the quaint walks & parks of Frederick.  There are dark redbuds and red oaks in contrast.

There's a way to have Adventures from a stable base, which doesn't compromise your lifestyle. 
That's what I'm working on. 

The thing that really made it easy, was that we didn't have kids. I really wanted to take the cat with me, but the cat didn't do well in my apartment, the guy I thought I might get together with had a cat, and my ex really needed the company. So I took the cat back. As far as I know, old HP is still doing well. At least I hope so. 

I liked my ex a LOT better, once we didn't have to share space  & politics. 
I think that's the best I can give the conflict-ridden, just to get some space in the relationship. 

I celebrate my Unniversary because it gives me a motive to examine where I am, what I am doing, and whether it's healthy. 

I put the uncomfortable memories (stirred by a friend's impending divorce), into a better life for myself and my ex. 
Mine is better, and I don't bother him enough, to know if his is, or not. 
It's up to him. 
As it should be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

20 years after I first stepped onto the martial arts mat, that I'm going back to the same old damn question of gender. It just came up in conversation, and I'm training with a wonderful group of guys, none of whom seem to care what my gender is, as long as I show up. 

One of the instructors has the charming habit of referring to the group as "gentlemen" so I suppose I'm an honorary one now. I honestly don't care, I think it's funny. 

It's too late, far too late, for second thoughts about women in combat. We have always been there. It's just now, we are getting paid for it. Sometimes. 

The enlightened hard-asses who comprised my core curriculum in aikido, jujutsu and judo, took my measure, and took me on. 
Gently, lovingly, without ever hurting me. I'm plenty good at hurting myself.. 
They taught me what it was to get up again, when I thought I could not. 

I'm 5'8", and over 180# in bad (fat) times, and my life history is full of manual labor and physical activity. I've got the disposition of a copperhead- I'm incredibly mellow until stepped upon.
I have tremendous control over my weapon, and choose to over-control rather than injure. No civilized training partner would do otherwise. I am not so kind, with my wit. No reason to be. The uncivilized tend to be witless as well. 

The gender discrimination game is outdated, yet lumbers along like some bit of space junk, waiting to fall on some undefended province in an unnamed, unrated country. 

I've made my peace with men (I like them, as long as they are paying attention, same as the rest of humanity) and at this point, I just want to see people focus more on the things that work, than imaginary problems propped up by politicos, propagandists, and the uneducated & incurious. 

I sometimes feel like I should carry this article, written at the prodding of Deborah Klens-Bigman for the Guelph Sword School, in my dojo bag.  She edited & carried me through it, and tried to get me to change the title.. for me, the title is part of the power (and the sly joke, if you know me) of the paper. 

An antidote, I hope, to the same damn thing.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I think luck has an engineer, and he's a bribeable sonofabitch. 
Fortunately, I never had the latitude to care. 
Survival leaves so few ways to complain. 

It's not convenient. Life isn't fucking convenient. I'm attending an advanced bodywork class this weekend, some good CEUs and good teachers. 

Someone offered a sweat lodge, and that sounded great to me, but women on their period are invited to "pray outside the lodge for the benefit of the ceremony" sorry , the benefit of the ceremony is in the mechanical function of the heat and steam. It's best for cleansing, which is, biologically, what menses are about. 

It's not about some sexist idea that women who are on their period are either not pregnant or not senior enough not to bother with it, can get a sweat on. High temps are far more dangerous in the first trimester. HellO!

Seriously, the magical thinking in this community just irritates the fuck out of me. 

When we build the steam room in our basement, anyone who can fit in, can participate. They just have to be naked. Towels welcome. Clothing forbidden. Ashamed of your body? not our problem. See a psychologist.  Steam is enough to purify anyone. Honesty will do the rest. 

If you are thinking magically, sit outside in the snow and rain, and pray yourself some fucking steam. And fuck off, while you're at it, especially if you're a sexist fucker. 

The world was never my oyster. 

There it was, a round grain the size of a LeSeur pea on my tongue. 

Spat it out, rubbed the membrane off, well by damn, that's a pearl. 

Thirty years of eating oysters with enthusiasm, raw, fried, and recently, steamed, and never a pearl, unless I didn't notice it going down. I can tie multiple cherry stems, and do some things genetically limited to a very small percentage of the population, so I don't have a stupid tongue. 

It lashes out, when something happens, and I can't hold it any more. 

Sure, this hurts someone.. but I have to accept, that they weren't paying attention. 
It hurts like hell, to hold this line, to have people scream and hate and whine, but truth is truth. 
We have to hold it, when we find it. 
We have to have a learning curve leading to Truth, and rational thinking must be the goalpost. 

What other people think we should do, is rarely Truth. 
It's just convenient.