Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Surprise Find

I was purging my apartment of absolutely everything I no longer need - if you haven't heard, I'm moving - when I came across a familiar box that I had not really opened in years. I recall the box well, but the contents not at all. Opening it I found some odds and ends that I've had since as long as I can remember. Nothing I need in my everyday life, but small tokens that make me smile.

A card - to the AikiRose - "thanks for the plate - Andrew"
A postcard with Brandon Lee from the Crow on it. Left on my desk when I was in 10th grade in my mythology class.
A lone, unused chopstick from China Taste.

An old love letter; I left it unopened. Some things are better that way.

Upon reaching the bottom, I found an item I had no idea I still had. It was a ticket stub, faded with age, but I knew it at once though the words are barely legible. It was a special stub. I had asked my first love to go out with me at this movie. "Go out", as we called it back in the day. Way back in '96.

For a moment I could hear her soft giggle when I was trying to get the nerve to ask her. Feel the pressure on my right side from my friend HEED!, telling me to stop being a chicken and "just DO it, geez". So I did. I could almost hear her quiet reply - "of course I will, dummy" - and smell that clean scent that always came from her when she turned her head and her hair tumbled over a shoulder.

I was smiling and I knew it. I took that moment to remember good times. To remember gestures and words from her that changed my life.

I dropped the ticket into the trash bin. It settled quietly next to the banana that had - judging by the color - lost in a rather violent fight. Only a momentary urge to pick up the stub before I was back to my chores.

It's time to save tickets from a movie with a new love. Wherever she is.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm rather a large Jeff Buckley fan. Having written a few of my favorite all-time songs, he's pretty high up on my list of musicians. And he left us far too soon.

However, that said, I still am mildly uncomfortable when I log into myspace and see this:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting Healthy Again

It's amazing to me how quickly getting out of shape and unhealthy can sneak up on you. In all fairness, it has been a gradual process that has devolved my existence over the last three years, but it was all very subtle from my perception. One moment I was secure in my knowledge that I was still as health as I was a few years ago. As healthy as when I went to Aikido for 8 hours a week, and when I ate well and didn't drink many sodas. When I biked downtown with friends for hours on end. Little did I realize 3 years later I'd have sleeping problems due to bad digestion, that I would have knees that could only carry me for 20 yards of sprinting before they stopped working. Digestion problems and bad knees are something older people have. Vitamin deficiency is something that happens to other people who didn't take care of themselves. People who aren't me. So I was shocked to wake up, struggling to sleep because of a stomach that was a torrid sea of acid, and realizing I am one of those people. It's also rather frightening after that happens that you'll continue your downward slide.

I've half-heartedly tried to change my ways a few times in the past but always ended up making less distance than even my weak knees could carry me. It was a few weeks ago that I took another half-hearted attempt at health – an afternoon jog – that would cause an event that rattled me enough to make me give a full-hearted one.

I'd forgotten the joy of blazing down the roads and my own two legs, sweat dripping in my eyes and the wind on my face. It was about the time I remembered this pleasure that my right knee locked up, nearly sending me tumbling into a ditch, my left almost following his brother's example as I used it to keep weight off of him. After a brief break in which I was completely unable to make my legs function, I had to stumble back the way I came, slightly terrified that the feeling I was experiencing – the barest ability to walk – might eventually be permanent. I could feel my knees struggling with each step, feel the wobbling and instability in my stance. And I was rather terrified.

That I made my way to the doctor at the next available opening will tell those who know me how worried I was. I've avoided the doctor for nearly 10 years until now.

Stepping in the building, the assistant looked at me before I even met the doctor, stopping midway through her greeting sentence as she looked me up and down.

“Young man, you need to meet someone”

...she said as while grabbed my arm and bringing me face to face with someone who turned out to be a nutritionist. Apparently she thought I looked so drained of color that I must be deprived of important nutrients that my body was craving.

It turns out she is rather astute with her observations, my doctor later informing me of my vitamin deficiency that she believes is the root of my knee problems. She also pinpointed my stomach problem to both diet and, depressingly, dairy. It took all my will to not fall to the floor upon my knees and thrust my hands heavenward, crying out at my misfortune. I was told to drop the milk entirely, which is about my favorite thing to consume, evident by the 2 gallons per week that I drink. Yet sleeping through the night would prove to be a fair trade. And as it turns out, after cutting milk out I have thus far been no longer troubles by a raging belly.

I was put on a rather (to me) strict dietary plan. The first two weeks is detox time. I think this will prove the most challenging.

Daily Requirements: 110oz of water (yeesh), 4 fruits (yay), 1 cup of beans minimum, 1 lb raw veggies, 1 lb cooked veggies, 3-4 oz fish/turkey or two eggs, 15 raw soak almonds or 2 tbs raw almond butter, very specific grain types.

Most of that is alright, but the raw veggies might be tough. And the water. I'm not a water cooler, but I must fill myself like one. On the plus side, I've learned I can have the bread I enjoy (Ezekiel), along with some specific all-fruit jelly.

In addition, I've a [rather vast] number of supplements I will be taking for a time. I don't mind that so much, however one of them is a powder that I mix with my daily protein shake. One small scoop of it can make a full glass of delicious mixed fruit smoothie turn 'wet grass clippings' green and taste like the rotting flesh of the damned. Yet my diet requires four such scoops per day.

The mainly problem I'm going to have is I simply 1) am not good at food preparation and 2) I do not like a variety of the foods that I need. Or rather, I like a variety but I don't know ways to prepare them in ways that will make them interesting. I've got a tentative class with a local raw food chef to see if I can increase my repertoire of healthy dishes.

So this is it; time to get serious. After mere days of selecting cutting out the dairy, eating live foods, tripling my water intake, etc, I've already noticed an improvement. Besides the aforementioned stomach problems not bothering me again so far, I've felt less tired than normal and had more energy to get through the day. I'm going to ride this out and see where it takes me. I'll be on my nutritionist's strict plans for 7 weeks minimum, at which time I'll be on my own. Hopefully by that time I'll have accustomed myself to these food times and I'll crave lettuce wraps or fruits instead of cheeseburgers or pizza.

I've decided the best way for me to stick to all this is to prepare my meals ahead of time instead of getting hungry, having no good food to reach for, then getting Chinese instead.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Untitled (Sonnet)

A sound so soft that stillness disturbs that fragile form
Deceitful vagrant creeping through the night air

Born to mold like clay and thought transform

To creep up like thunder from a coming storm

Yet a sound so subtle can be a tempest made
Lest you bend your knee on rain soaked earth

Withstand the gale and with no word be swayed

Reach deep in the soils to water your rebirth

I once basked in the radiance that you keep in the shade

Still feeling the warmth from when I bathed in your light

At your altar is where my heart was laid

There let it remain when day turns to night

Remember me that way, having seen what others may not

In our short time of love that will not be forgot

Monday, February 18, 2008

Unexpected Evening...

Those of you who know me well will not believe the next words that I say to you...

I went dancing.

And those of you who know me well likely know my Dancing Story and thus will believe what I say all the less. Yet here we are with the truth laid out for all to see. What's more; I enjoyed it. Enjoyed it enough to do it again the next day. And enough to decide that everyone should dance to the Beatles at least once.

On the day before V-Day, I received a message from one of my favorite Nashville friends asking (telling, actually) me to go dancing the next evening. I tripped over myself to accept the invitation. It'd like to say it was because I'd always thought it would be a lot of fun to try to dancing, if only I had someone interested in going. In truth it was mostly because I simply thought that dancing with her was something that I would like to experience.

Now, mind that this wasn't crazy in the club, leg-humping dancing, but rather traditional styles such as the waltz, rumba, and tango. It turns out it was actually a dance class and I soon found myself nervous upon a dance floor with a very gifted instructor - I don't know anything about dancing, but I know a good teacher when I see one - and 5 participants. We spent the next hour learning the waltz, the rumba, and the push-pull swing. While I've never danced before in my life, I couldn't help but feel the movements were very natural, as if I'd done them thousands of times. And then it hit me; I had.

I've studied Yoseikan 'Aikido' for a number of years now, though sadly no longer regularly, and I've been told a number of times (like most Budoka , I imagine) by non-practitioners that "I bet you could dance very well." But I can't. Not do I think I know a single person that I've met over the years through Yoseikan that can dance at all. Perhaps I shall be the first.

But it hit me as I made my way over and over in the little box I had drawn in my mind around my feet; something about this feels so natural. Eyes focused on my partner, willing myself not to look down as if I balanced on a precipice, trying not to look at her feet even though I feared trampling them (which I didn't do once, I'm proud to say) I realized I had done these steps a thousand times and more. I'll put it in a language my fellow Budoka can understand, and with that language I'm going to teach you some basic dancing in three easy steps; irimi, hiraki, motari komi, mirror it, repeat. Okay, the motari komi part is a joke but wouldn't that be awesome? But I realized these moves were all just Yoseikan without throwing someone at the end. Admittedly the most disappointing part about dancing.

I don't believe myself to be a judgmental person, so I don't think in the past I'd ever have said something such as "dancing would be a silly thing to learn". I mean, really...who dances? But I'm sure I probably thought that to myself, about myself. It's just not for me, I would have thought. But there is something to dancing. I hate to use a term such as "magical", but there it is all the same. There is something about asking a woman to dance, offering your hand to her as she accepts, and leading her out onto the dance floor, still hand-in-hand. Holding your hand to your side, level with her eye, as she accepts it and moves close to you and you rest your hand firmly but gently on her shoulder blade to guide her around the room.

I don't know any fancy moves. I have a small set of what I can do, and I don't stray from it. I don't know any awesome twirls. I don't know how to dip someone. And I was perfectly content to use my small skill-set and dance hour after hour. However, you better believe if I did know such moves - and when I do - I'll be twirling and dipping people like there's no tomorrow, rose clenched between my teeth, and God help you if you get in my way because there's going to be trouble.

The atmosphere of a place like where I went appeals to my nature. Everyone is polite, everyone is respectful. I was raised pretty strictly by these values and they are so burned into my soul I can't help but apply them to everyday life. And this place really worked with that part of me. It felt almost like another world where people act like I feel everyone should. I don't feel awkward when I rise to stand for a lady as I await her to take her seat. I don't worry about getting yelled at for holding a door for someone. I don't get a look of disgust offering my hand to help another over threshold. I don't worry about these things because they know I'm not doing it because I think they are weak or helpless; I'm doing it to be polite and respectful. When I'm moving around the dance floor with someone, I can look them straight in the eye because I am respecting them as a human being, not because I'm being some creepy guy who is staring. Everyone gets that and accepts it, even expects it. Like it should be.

When I was instructed in my lesson to always, always escort a lady off the dance floor, my mind said, "yes! this is right". Why would I not do such a thing? Why am I not escorting women more places in my everyday life?

While I've always heard people speaking of dancing as a form of expression, I never really got it. Painting? Sure, a form of expression, clearly. Music? Obviously! But dancing? It's all just set moves isn't it? Apparently not! It turns out it is one of those situations where you cannot really see the truth of the matter before plunging into it. I've danced with more amazing and beautiful women in the last week than anyone has a right to ever know in a lifetime, let alone dance with. And that was all I needed to do to have "dance as expression" proved to me. I know that one of the women is goofy with an off-the-wall sense of humor who doesn't let much bother her. I know another appreciates bluntness and people who love music the way she does. I know a third who is amazingly disciplined but will be the first person to pull a practical joke on you if you're looking the other way. I learned more about some of these ladies in a dance than I learn from some friends in a year. There is an openness and sharing that took me unawares and left me feeling naked. I wonder what people learned about me?

I'm going to go again. I think it will be good for me. I've spent the last few years coming out of my shell more and more, as close friends will tell you, and I think this will be yet another good exercise for me to peak my head out into the sunlight a little more. One day I will fully bathe in it. But for now I'll keep reaching upwards.