sienamystic: (flowermachine)
24 hours straight driving to New Jersey, two days of aikido weapons seminar, then right back in the car for 24 hours back and work the next day. I feel pretty damn hardcore right now.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
No fic writing, but I've been beavering away on a new approach to the book I'm theoretically trying to write. I've always stalled out early on in the process before, but keep plugging away. I made the decision to take it from first person to third person, and to skew a little more in a particular direction, but it's also making me have to figure out new things, like who my antagonist is. There is a strong family/found family kind of theme running through what I have so far (please let it be working and not anvilivious!) so the contrast I'm thinking is an antagonist with a family situation that was either damaging or which they damaged. I don't know if I'm good enough to write a nuanced, loveable villain, especially since I'm considering things like Caligula's three sisters as a trio of witches, who are the reason he turned from a relatively stable young man to a crazed murderer. (Allegedly!) Hee. Or maybe Livia might work, given powers due to her deification but twisted by anger at watching the family line she worked so hard to bring to power flame out. I need something more solid for motivations. Maybe I should go reread my Sutonius.

Assisted with a group of women for a self-defense class today, all hearing-impaired. There was a signing interpreter and some family members taking part who could also interpret. Very interesting, and a bunch of cool ladies, most of which were thrilled to get the opportunity to try and rip each other's arms off. (It always happens!) Probably unsurprisingly, they were all very quick to pick up on subtle body language and movement, and were fast learners.
sienamystic: (Joan)
Went to the 4 hour driver's ed class (after getting a ticket for rolling through a stop sign) and honestly, it wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected. The instructor was engaging, and people participated enough so that things didn't stagnate. The class was about evenly split between older ladies and younger kids (I was one of only a couple who could be described as middle-aged). Towards the end, the group of older ladies got a little chatty and clueless, and the young dude behind me was getting increasingly more irritated with them, but thankfully the class ended soon thereafter and I didn't have to turn around and try to set him on fire with the power of my mind.

We also saw several long PSAs that were all dealing with texting and cell phone usage while driving. They were pretty effective. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to know, as in the case of one of the stories, that your sister lost control of her car and hit a bridge while trying to read your text that said, simply, "Yeah." I don't text or use my cell phone while I'm driving, but I do fuss with my ipod sometimes, and I think that's a habit I need to break.

There was also a young woman in class who valiantly tried to argue that the cop giving her a speeding ticket meant that child abusers and murderers were running free, but that got pretty briskly dealt with.

I've been helping with the kids classes at the dojo on Saturday morning. It's amazing how flexible and energetic the little boogers are. And how differently they learn. There's a redheaded little boy who doesn't have a lot of body coordination yet, but he's really intense about getting things right, and he screws up his face and silently watches everything like a hawk.

Have been rereading Heyers. Need to reread my Yuletide source material. Am a little intimidated because my assignment seems to want, essentially, original fiction, and I don't quite know in which direction to go.
sienamystic: (etc etc etc)
So meeting with supervisor is tomorrow morning, so at least I can stop angsting like an idiot about it reasonably soon. But of course, it's still in front of me. This is all just my big old Imposter Syndrome thing, which stands behind me and mutters, "Now they've found out, you thought you could fool them but of course you couldn't." I picture it looking a little bit like Mother Gothel from Tangled crossed with an Alien face-hugger. I hate being so thin-skinned.

In other news, aikido went really well this week (treated myself to a new gi since the old one was blown out at the knee). Work has been productive too. After a momentary scare, I think we have found a way to cope with a dept collector who has trawled up something from over a decade ago and is trying to harass Bemo about it. There's also a potential job that's swum up onto the horizon for him. We are doing our best to remain staunchly neutral about the whole thing, because if he sends his heart over the fence and they lob it back at him, it'll set back all the good work he's doing with the therapist. (How's that for a weird metaphor? Basically he sits on the razor's edge of hope and the fear of hoping, the desire to reach out and start work again and the fear that once again he will be rejected, or be found unsuitable, or disdained. Zen mind, zen mind. It would be a good job for him, we thing - part time in a field he's experienced with.

Am getting increasingly incoherent so we can take that as a sign that the pill is working. Goodnight all.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Tonight I got to do jiyu-waza for the first time. The term translates to "free expression," and is facing an attack when you don't know which one it will be. (For our levels, they are limited to one of four.) I've participated as the attacker in these scenarios, but kind of dreaded being the one standing in the circle. I worried that I'd lock up and just stand there. Well, tonight I got put in, and while I didn't cover myself with glory, I moved. I did techniques. And I feel kind of pleased with myself. There's plenty of room to improve, but for the first time I feel like I've actually reached a small milestone in my training.

Five

Feb. 9th, 2012 09:39 pm
sienamystic: (aikido)
Tested tonight for my fifth kyu, second orange belt. First test with a weapons component, so I got to demonstrate the 22-count jo (short staff) kata. I was swinging wildly between "you got this" and "oh my god I can't" right up until I started the test. Towards the end there was a lot of heavy breathing, and not the sexy kind, but I managed to neither throw up nor pass out, so put that in the win column.

We had a lot of people testing, including two people going for their blues, and everybody did really well. Lots of good energy in the dojo tonight.

I'm working on a small piece of writing that will work as a blog post for the dojo, about what aikido means to me, and I'll post it here as well when I'm done.
sienamystic: (Catherine heart)
Today was a day that rolled along more or less smoothly. I got things done in a competent manner, problems were resolved, tickets were purchased, and I am full of relief.

So, here are other things on my mind:

For those watching SYTYCD - is it just me, or is this a season full of talented dancers given very little of interest to do?

I am actually not reading A Dance of Dragons. I read the first three books, and then the wait sort of killed my interest. Am pondering not bothering with the rest of the series, as I feel its window for me has passed.

The newest Harry Dresden book suffered from having the action plot shoehorned in where a quieter, more reflective, more relationship-heavy plotline wanted to be. There was some of that, but it kept getting elbowed aside by the kerblooey. It wasn't a bad book, I just wanted more beefy interpersonal stuff.

I really want gummi bears right now. But I am not going to get any.

I also want to make my own halvah, so I don't have to stalk the co-op to buy theirs (which includes banana chips, chocolate chips, and crasins, and is terribly delicious). If you happen to be sitting on an awesome halvah recipe, please share. I'm a new addict.

Anyway, off to aikido.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Took my bike over to a local volunteer spare parts/repair place and they're going to be on the lookout for a new rear wheel. Fingers crossed.

Then went to four hours of aikido - a spring seminar which included three visitors from the parent dojo on the East Coast. All very nice people, including the older woman, a spry little cricket of a lady who just exudes calm confidence. I want to grow up to be her. Won't be able to go to day two tomorrow, but will go again on Tuesday.

Doctor's appt. tomorrow. Not looking forward to it. Am gloomily sure I'll be put back on meds since I haven't been able to keep my eating under control these past months.

Bemo doing well, by and large.

Tired in the good way.

iconic

Mar. 4th, 2011 08:25 am
sienamystic: (Annie from Community)
My LJ account has run out of paid time, and I think I'll just let it sit like this for a while. But it's weird how much I already miss my big list of icons. When I was over at Diaryland, the format didn't include icons, and I had no idea how addictive the blasted things are.

An active day yesterday. Swimming laps at lunch and then aikido in the evening. I'm all-over sore muscles, but in a good way. I just wish I could figure out what I'm doing that has my neck and shoulders so tense all the time. Stress is a good possibility (insert hollow laugh here) but I'm also wondering about my computer and keyboard setup at work.

Oh, and in an act of brilliant timing, our computer at home had a hard drive crash and Bemo had to go drop it off at the computer store (he was apprehensive and stressed and v. mad at the computer, but pulled himself together nicely and got it taken in) and I just hope our data is retrievable and that the whole business isn't too expensive. If the Law of Economic Averages of Life holds up, it'll cost us $125 because that's the amount of the check that came in the mail two days ago. (One of the other people at the dojo had a furnace break on her the other day, and then had an unexpected tax refund show up for nearly the exact amount as the furnace repair cost her - for me, it tends to happen in the opposite direction. First the unexpected check and the rejoicing, then the expense that eats it up, usually to the dollar.)

Anyway. Getting some paintings photographed today. I usually am not a fan of Geometric Abstraction, but we just unwrapped a really beautiful one, all pinks and yellows and greens and reds, in different textures, looking much like a computer chip out of a Willie Wonka candy machine.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Have just passed my 6th kyu test. I knew three other people were testing with me, and assumed that we'd all start off together, but nope, I was up there all alone, nerve-wracked and panting like a tiny steam engine going up a hill. However, I got through it with some blips but nothing terrible, and no passing out or vomiting on the nice clean mats, so yay.

Have received some lovely support from a sister of a friend. Said sister is a psychologist, and has known Bemo for a long time, although not really closely. (They had a class together in college, I think.) She read my long, rambling screed and wrote back some really good, practical advice as well as a specific kind of therapist she thinks would work best for Bemo - now, whether or not we can find one here will be an issue, but at least we can start looking.

It's funny. I was so elated when I read her email. And then I got tired. Here's the road you may like to try walking! Now...go walk it! It's hard not to be daunted, sometimes, but I'll just try to adopt a cheerful, roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-to-work attitude, and start poking around to see what's what.
sienamystic: (aikido)
For my own benefit. I was going to put up youtube videos for each of these, but can't find good ones for most of them - the videos all seem to be the more advanced level takes on each technique, some of them involving more dramatic breakfalls.

Katatetori Ikkyo - Irimi and Tenkan

Katatetori Shihonage - Irimi and Tenkan

Shomenuchi Kokyunage

Optional Techniques:

Ryotetori Tenchinage (Heaven and Earth throw)



Tsuki Kotegaeshi



Ushiro Ryotetori Sankyo
sienamystic: (aikido)
Sensei says I can start prepping for my first test, which, once passed, will let me stay for the second class. Most importantly, it means that I can start weapons work. (Old sensei snorted a bit at this, every sensai having his or her Right Way To Do Things that sometimes overlap and sometimes do not. Old sensai was what you might call Weapons Positive - we started on them very early, and every other Saturday we did two hours of only weapons.)

Anyway, yay!

This update brought to you by Overzealous Capital Letters.
sienamystic: (aikido)
I have bruises on both forearms - faint, but visible, just about two shades darker than my skin, which is still hanging on tenaciously to the remains of whatever tan I picked up this summer. They don't really hurt unless I lean on them by accident, or unless I bump them into the frame of a door as I walk through - something I do frequently because I always misjudge it.

I'm kinda proud of them.

I got them during the second hour of the first day, when we were learning a truly difficult and kinda esoteric hold - it's frequently hard to know when you're executing it correctly until your training partner makes a faint eeeping sound and taps out. So there was lots of fumbling on everybody's part, and in the course of that, a lot of forearms were bruised.

Six hours of training over two days. Not exactly a marathon - we had plenty of breaks (and sushi during them) but it was a little bit of a push for me, and I sailed through, sweaty and happy, and not forced to go sit out and recover my breath at any point. The last hour of both days was spent with weapons - bokken on Saturday, jo on Sunday - and as I adore weapons work, I was thrilled to get that time. The bokken work was all sword-taking, where an armed attacker gets his sword taken away by an unarmed opponent, and at the very end, we lined up to do a more free-form version where you would be attacked by one of three different strikes we had all learned the counters to, and had to respond on the fly.

I didn't do all that well, having a tendency to forget most everything I've learned at the moment of stress, but I honestly don't mind slipping up with this group of people and with this instructor. It may just be that I feel safe at this dojo - Sensai may bark occasionally, but he's good humored and is fine with you laughing at yourself if you screw up - but I'm not as terrified to make mistakes in front of people here. I used to take riding lessons, way back in the day, and my instructor was a yelly type that would send me into a spiral of confusion, until I could barely see what was in front of me because I was so nervous and I'mnotdoingitrightohmygodohmygod, and so conscious of everyone's eyes on me. I still have big insecurities about making visible mistakes (which hasn't, sadly, made me more prone to doing things carefully so there aren't any mistakes) but that didn't come into play on Saturday, even though there were strangers observing at the back of the room. Even Bemo was there to watch me get dumped on my butt!

Saturday evening was the one-year anniversary of the dojo, so there was a party at the home of one of the upper belts, and I have a faint hope that we may end up with some personal friends out of it. Bemo came with me and we had a great time, just relaxing with nice people, good food, a spirited round of Trivial Pursuit: Lord of the Rings Edition (and I am not nearly nerd enough to triumph at that game, alas) and other cheerful things. Bemo had a very good time, and I am persuaded that it was quite good for him, on the whole.

Hurrah for personal improvement through jumping around on mats in white pyjamas.

Squee!

Sep. 22nd, 2010 11:57 am
sienamystic: (aikido)
Open Mat at aikido tonight and tomorrow! Know what that means? 31 count Jo Kata, bitches! Woo!

31 Jo Kata

Sep. 15th, 2010 11:26 am
sienamystic: (aikido)

spendthrift

Sep. 8th, 2010 09:46 pm
sienamystic: (aikido)
Have paid for my next month of aikido classes, as my first free month has come and gone. Also treated myself to a weapons bag, since my jo and bokken have been rattling around in various locations, so I told myself I needed one. Really, I wanted it, not needed it, but it's very pretty and I'm happy I have it.

Great class today - just me and one other student, so got some individualized attention that really helped. And I was training with a good partner, who is also a big dude, which means you have to do the technique correctly because he's naturally strong enough that you can't brute force things. Back tomorrow for more.

It was a long day at work, so this was a good way to let some stress go. Feeling pretty good now.
sienamystic: (aikido)
I just turned up my old sensai on Facebook. He's now a high-end chocolatier in California, of all things.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Aikido last night and again tonight. I'm still very happy there in a way I haven't been in a long, long time. The sensai is a good blend - he insists on the basics of formality when they are called for, but also has a great sense of humor and is willing to joke around as well, which cuts the tension I might otherwise really be feeling because given encouragement, I get over-intense and then lock up.

Lots of work on basics, which is exactly what I need. My body remembers a lot, but it doesn't remember it perfectly by any means! I usually go, "that looks...vaguely familiar" but there's a lot of little things that I need to relearn, like which way I'm supposed to turn, or exactly where my hands are supposed to be. The last lesson of the evening had me struggling the whole way through because I would get started and my brain would go, "NO! Wait, is this right? Are you right? That's not right, is it? Which way to we turn!" My training partner (a very sweet brown belt who is patient and highly complimentary to the newbie) finally made me do it at a faster speed, and my brain didn't have time to object, and I completed the throw just as it should be done. But given the chance to stop and think, I get up inside my head.

Plus, while I can execute a front roll more or less as it should be done, I am doing something mysterious when I try a back roll, and end up facing the wrong way. My sensai is mystified. I am mystified. There is general mystification.

I should probably get myself an aikido icon, shouldn't I?
sienamystic: (aikido)
Second aikido class today, so I won't be back until next Wednesday, most like. I'll have to figure out my schedule - aikido days, gym days, yadda yadda. It's kind of amazing how much I remember. I mean, it's not like I'm wandering out onto the mat and flawlessly throwing people over my hip, but things are feeling right much faster. When I say I last studied aikido twenty years ago, I'm not exaggerating for effect. We were in the Philippines my junior year of high school, and it was a very strange year, full of anxiety for me about school (I was in some classes harder than I could handle, and didn't realize for a few months that I could drop them and change) and my parents, I think, were probably fighting more openly and obviously. It was probably the first time that I experienced the sort of thing that traumatizes a lot of third culture kids - an active dislocation from my home culture and support system. Before, I had no really intimate friends, and as long as I had my books I was pretty much ok. Sure, I had a passel of cousins who I had known since I was a wee babe, but things were still difficult.

So of course, being a dislocated teenager flailing around, I went the natural route and developed a head-over-heels, full-on, probably blushing at inopportune moments crush on a math teacher of mine. He was a lanky California type (although he may not actually have been from there) who wore flattering and trendy but not trying too hard clothes and great ties, and had a fantastic body from doing things like swimming six miles before breakfast. He was funny, and kind, and a good teacher. He was the one who told me about the aikido class, held in a dojo on the ground of the Polo Club. (Our class followed a kendo group, and I almost took kendo just so I could get the gear. Damn, that shit is cool.)

So martial arts being what they are, there was a lot of sweating, and grappling, and throwing. It was Manila, we had no air conditioning, just giant fans to blow the warm air around. Your feet squeak on the mats, and you get callouses. You get intimate with people. You're pressed up against their back, holding their collar, pulling their head against your shoulder, clinging tightly to their wrists. There's a reason why fighting=foreplay is such a potent thing for me, and that's because being an awkward teenager rolling around on the floor with the object of your crush, smelling him, having his sweat on your lip because you just pulled him backwards before you tossed him across your hip, well...that's enough to mark you. The smell of sweat, of bodies in healthy exertion, is a massive turn-on for me.

I remember one day, coming into class. We didn't have changing rooms, and my teacher was standing with his back to me, his white gi pants in stark contrast to his tanned bare back. He had...a really great back. It was that perfect taper, shoulders to waist. I actually stood there, thunderstruck, for a few long beats. It was the croquet mallet of Eros, slamming into my forehead.

I'm not leading into a story about how one day, he drove me home and got all Don't Stand So Close To Me-y, or anything. The year ended, my mom and dad's issues caused us to leave the Philippines early to go back to Virginia. I tried to find a new dojo, but the good ones were too far away, and the ones nearby were crappy and macho in a way I hated. (Most of the ones I tried were aikido and also judo and ju-jitsu and twelve other martial arts under one roof. I think I already knew that wouldn't work for me.) One instructor wore tiger-striped purple pants. I drifted out of aikido. I tried a few other things - broadsword and shield fighting in the SCA, which was fun, but I didn't have money for armor. And there was an attempt at yoga which didn't take.

I could be jumping the gun. My free month may go by and I may not be able to scrape together the money to keep going. (It's $68/month, unlimited classes, I have discovered.) But for the first time in twenty freaking years, I'm back on the mat again, fumbling my way through something until it clicks, and my hips pivot, and I swing the correct foot around and my partner falls sweetly to the mat. I'll likely be missing the intense focus that relief from misery can bring, and I'm assuming there won't be an erotic charge beyond the basic one of bodies in intimate space working together. But perhaps those six or so months in Manila, finding a space for myself on the mat, finding some sort of family with the people I trained with, were special enough to me that years later, my body still remembers the language I used to speak.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Went to my first aikido class in something like...twenty years. I studied it for a bare handful of months my junior year of high school, when we were living in the Philippines, and since we got back I made a couple of stabs at getting back to a dojo but none of them ever worked out.

This place feels right. Formality, which calms me down, but it's not so stern that I worried about smiling or making a small joke. The sensai is an er doc, a big guy, with a calm, cheerful, instructive demeanor, which is just about right. I have a free month to make sure I click, but I can already tell that I like this place, and I like these people.

I haven't found out how much it'll cost per month once I start having to pay. I worry that it won't be feasible. But this really is calling out to me, and I want to find a way to do it if I can.

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