Sierra

He is preparing to test for his pilot license. I always liked the idea of the pilot’s alphabet, and took strides when I was younger to learn it somewhat. So, on the way home from school one afternoon, I am on the phone with him and decide to get myself back up to speed on the alphabet (seeing a show he knows them all and can support me easily with this, plus I feel like he might enjoy my delight in something he loves [if for different reasons]). I remember more than half of them, but there’s a handful he had to guide me to figure out or just directly tell me.

“Hmm… Okay, let’s see,” I say. “India, Lima, Oscar, Victor, Echo, Yankee, Oscar, Uniform,” I say, slight pauses and a rolling casualness to my list-sounding words.

“Sierra,” he adds….

“What?” I ask him.

He tells me it was another of the ones with which I had struggled. ::facepalm

Honey, I tell him. I wasn’t listing ones I hadn’t remembered. I was saying something.

He’s surprised, and needs me to start again. Before I finish, however, he gets it. He is actually listening this time, instead of passively making sure I was saying only real words in the alphabet. 😛 We cracked up about it, and it was definitely an added delight to my practice session.

Plus, now, as a regular response to one of us telling the other that we love him or her, instead of saying, “I love you, too,” we sometimes reply, “Sierra,” because that had been his response to my declaration during practice that day. 😛 Same meaning, but shorter and filled with extra history and goofiness and meaning.

Total nerds, yes. I know. Sierra.

Post-a-day 2022

You’re the best around

I had a hunch that my friend was extremely good at the acrobatic aerial work she has been doing these past few years, though I hadn’t seen her practice since she started really practicing kind of as a full-time hobby and part-time job a few years ago. She was already a natural in her early days, and not kept getting better and better. Even as a semi-newbie, she was still asked to perform with seasoned individuals in circus performances of varied types. Now, she is several years into it all, and a few years into major practice and work.

Tonight, as I watched her practice for real for the first time in years, I saw what I expected to see in her actions and skills and grace and success, of course. But I also saw in the faces and in the comments of the others present, those practicing and teaching others, what I had long suspected: she is spectacular. Even the owner of the gym had her students stop to watch, she knew it would be worth their time to observe. Of course, when everyone inevitably commented to and lauded her about it all, she was extremely humble and grateful for their kind comments, likely feeling they were over exaggerated. Though, they most certainly were not – she is just that good and that humble.

I am extremely grateful to be friends with her, and I am so proud of her for all that she has accomplished in this field. She has become one of the best around, all through her own hard work and dedication. Anyone who has the opportunity to be her student is supremely blessed to be a le to work with someone so loving and gentle and caring, yet also so supremely talented and effectively self-trained.

Post-a-day 2021

Moving on up

I guess you could say my credits finally transferred fully today. You see, I started out in the adult division this sprint as a yellow belt, not white. But I hadn’t done any adult division before this year – only junior division. But I had gotten to the top belt level in the junior division, red belt.

Nowadays, they offer a dual credit, where junior students who are close to the age limit for juniors can take the tests for the adult belts, alongside their junior belt tests. That way, when they reach the adult age group, they don’t have to begin again at white, but just can continue. That was not a thing when I was a kid, however.

Nonetheless, the instructor started me off with the second belt level, yellow. I did all the classes (and then some) and participated in and helped with the tournament, and then took the belt test and moved up a level, to orange.

But then, the instructor asked if I would be comfortable, if given approval by the head of the whole organization, moving up a few belt levels at the upcoming belt test. I was, and I told her so.

A few days later, she told me that I not only would be able to move over a few levels, but that I would be passing through another three levels (four total), and would be testing to receive my brown belt (the one just below black).

I was excited, but knew a lot of work would be needed in order to pass the test – I definitely did not know the katas.

However, these past several days, I have learned them.

Tonight, I performed them, as well as the original kata I created this morning while on a break at school.

And no onlookers would have known that I learned them all in under a week, with only a total of about two hours of practice.

All in all, I did an excellent job on the test as a whole, which is exactly what I had wanted to do. Still room for improvement on site-ups speed and katas. All the test, however, is golden.

And I am officially a brown belt in American Karate now, which is very, very cool.

Post-a-day 2021

Saturday night

I didn’t go right to sleep when I got home. I stressed a little, ate sufficient food, tidied a little further, then chatted for over three hours with a friend on the phone. At one point, she asked me how karate was going, and I ended up pulling myself off the floor and pulling out the videos of the katas I have to do this coming Monday. I mostly knew the steps of one, and the beginning of the other, from watching the videos and stepping through Thursday night after testing in class for the other stuff. Today and this week have been so exhausting, though, I had already forgotten about needing to learn the katas this weekend. But I got up and got to work.

She stayed with me on the phone as I did it, and she even commented that she felt like she understood exactly what I was doing, just by listening to me. Hearing me work through out loud each part and combination and re-doing and adding and remembering and learning and breathing and exclaiming thoughts, she was right there with me in my mind as I figured it all out and worked through everything. Sure, she knows next to nothing about karate. But she knows dance and she knows choreography, so she understands the process. I think it was actually a lot of unexpected fun for the both of us.

Anyway, I think I know the two katas now. I just have to focus tomorrow on the details of the various steps and movements, and then go through for nit-picking improvements with the instructor before actually performing them Monday evening.

And, of course, I have to make up my own and perform that, too…

On that note, though I stayed up way late doing all of that, I shall sleep now. I have much to do tomorrow, aside from all of this, already.

Post-a-day 2021

Mastery

I have a feeling that, whenever someone has hit the level of mastery in something, especially a sport, it is extremely attractive and, even, sexy to o serve that individual practicing that activity, showing that level of mastery.

I watched athletes today, and the younger ones were cute in their learned skills. But the older, much experienced ones, were something to behold. The little girl in me couldn’t seem to decide where her crush loyalties lay, her admiration was spread amongst all the masters. And they were obvious, the masters. They were the ones who didn’t look like they were doing something difficult at all, whenever they were actually doing it, yet they did it with such grace and ease, my jaw wanted to drop in awe.

Yes, mastery is attractive… very attractive.

Post-a-day 2021

Karate

In the weapons practice tonight, we were doing defense for knife attacks. I discovered that I am not cut out to be a knife attacker. However, I am totally capable of the defense. 😂

We were using washable markers, so as to see where exactly we were ‘cut’, so that we could evaluate the degree of success of our maneuvers. The only two times I had more than a gentle little graze were both when I was the attacker. She got me good once and decently the other time.

However, when I was defending myself, I was a bit of a beast, even against the teacher. Perhaps it is just real enough for me, that the only reason the person attacking me doesn’t end up on the ground, is because I continuously remind myself not to hurt but to disable only – there were far too many occasions where my instincts were ready genuinely to kick out knees and knock a person to the ground…

I think I want to bring back sock wrestling in the near future. My brain could use the tactical efforts combined with genuine physical efforts, all under the shelf of knowing not actually to hurt the other person. In the defense practice, it is difficult not to hurt the person attacking me, because that is the training realm for my brain: attacker here, so destroy!!! In sick wrestling, I’m not caught off guard and am not merely defending myself – I am also attacking and strategizing to last and to win, without the idea of threat to my actual safety.

Anyway, yeah… it was a good night at karate. We sparred again, too, and I was the sample to go against all the kids by the end. But I also got to spar the other instructor first. He and I both knew that I got some really, really good hits on him, but that they were unseen by the two judges. So, he won the three points first by their eyes, but he and I both knew that that wasn’t really the case. I was honored to have tied and to receive his compliments via surprised awe afterward. It was really cool, actually.

I think that might have been the first time that I didn’t win a match but didn’t cry… it didn’t even show up as a possibility for me… I am genuinely only just now realizing it… and that is very cool.

Post-a-day 2021

A Memory

I think it was the summer before my junior year in high school that I didn’t really put much effort into playing the trumpet… I had played since sixth grade, and had never had to work too hard to have a good sound and play decently.

At this point, I think I had taken it a bit too much for granted, and so practicing had dropped quite low on my list of activities the summer before junior year.

I had also just spend a chunk of the summer studying in Spain, so my focus was more on Spanish – a subject I did not study in school – than on preparing for August chair placements for band.

My brother picked me up from the audition/chair test – he was an alum of the school, and so had spent a bit of time looking around while we were doing the test – and drove me on his motorcycle to a dance class.  I wasn’t taking the dance class, but I was working the welcome desk for it, in exchange for a free group class of my choosing later on… I also had the added benefit of watching this class happen, and learning from the seated sidelines.

Basically, I was focused on doing my best to live frugally with dance, because I was all too aware of my family’s financial situation – well, my mom’s side, anyway… my dad’s was a different story, but I functioned with the mind of one with extremely limited funds, so that’s why I was spending hours of my time working the welcome table at dance classes, in exchange for a ten-dollar class…

Anyway, so I rushed from the chair test to the dance class, loving the first ride on my brother’s motorcycle – while simultaneously being terrified(!) – and had asked a classmate to send me a text message with the results, when they came out in another ten or so minutes.

I was placed absurdly low in terms of capability…, and it hurt my spirit a lot.

But, I imagine, it was entirely valid based on the amount of practice I had put into it all.

I had begun this with a certain incident in mind, but I am not wondering if that incident was even that year… I am beginning to think it was the following year, my senior year, that this incident happened…, but I’m really not sure.

I shall continue with the incident, nonetheless…

So, I was placed after this one kid, who had become a semi-distant friend of mine.  We sat side-by-side five mornings a week for 45 minutes, and chatted here and there, so we were comfortable with one another’s company, but we didn’t spend time together outside of band, right?

Anyway, I had liked being in the Jazz Band, and you had to be placed so high in the count of trumpets in order to be included in the Jazz Band each year.  I had placed one below what was included in Jazz Band membership.  So, I initiated a challenge.  The two band directors each picked a selection of our current music, and told us to prepare to play those and any two scales that they would say at the challenge.

The day of the challenge arrived.  I played beautifully for the selections, and my sound quality was stellar.  The guy had incredibly powerful sound, though with a very odd and un-musical edge to it all, as usual.  The scales they selected, naturally, involved playing really high… something which I was not great at doing, but that usually didn’t matter at our area in the chair placements (higher notes for higher chairs), and I could play the ones that popped up in our music… what’s more, this kid and I played off the same sheet and stand, meaning the only difference, if I were to win the challenge, would be that we would switch chair spots, and that I would be in Jazz Band when it started up, but he would not be in it.  In terms of performance in the band, nothing would change.  Nonetheless, they picked scales that were hard for me, and I made the decision to play beautifully for a single octave, instead of iffily on the second octave… one I had been taught by the band director himself.

We had assigned ourselves the letters of A and B.  When the challenge finished, the directors came out from behind the wall, an area from which they had not been able to see us during the challenge.  They told us that player A had won, and who was that?  The guy wasn’t quite sure which letter he had been, and so looked to me questioningly for help.  I, processing much more than the result of the challenge, informed him kindly that he had been player A, and so nothing was changing with our chair rankings.

What was I processing?

Well, the way the band director had delivered the news… He had put on an air of unknowing, as though he hadn’t known who player A and player B had each been.  I had only been on the planet a teen number of years, and had minimal musical training,  – he had had probably more musical training than I had had in years of life itself – yet I could tell the difference in almost every player in our band, especially the trumpet players.  And he played trumpet, too, so I knew that he knew each of our individual sounds.  Especially between this guy and myself, the identification was easy… even for someone who had never heard us beforehand, one could accurately guess whose sound was which.

So, I knew the band director knew who had won… yet he pretended not to know, to be utterly unaware of who had been which player… It felt like he was proving a point to me, that I needed to practice more… no matter how good of a sound I had, if I didn’t improve further, I couldn’t even beat the nice guy with a weird sound.  I had taken lessons from the band director during my freshman year, but had been able to manage on my own eventually, and so we did not continue the lessons after a while.  For me, no matter what his intentions were, his pretended ignorance of who had one the challenge was like a slap in the face and a terrible scolding… I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I had let someone else down, too…, not just myself.  I knew that he had wanted me to be in a higher chair placement, and that he had wanted me to be in Jazz Band.  But he was not going to let me do that without putting in a lot more effort.

Again, that is all my own interpretation at the time.

But it still holds about the same, looking back on it all today.

The irony of it all, however, is that, when Jazz Band started up that year, the band director casually upped the number of trumpets in Jazz Band… by one player.  So, I ended up in Jazz Band, anyway.

The following year (Or the year after that, depending on which year this had all been during), I ranked even lower in the chair placements at the end-of-summer chair test.  After several weeks of Jazz Band rehearsals, someone was sent one day to bring me into Jazz Band… so, I ended up in it then, too.  I was clearly good enough for Jazz Band – I even practiced that music, including when I didn’t really need to practice it, because that music came so naturally and easily for me – and the band director agreed with that sentiment enough that he kept letting me be part of it, even though I didn’t ever do well with the whole ‘practice on your own over the summer’ thing.  During the school year, I was always fine, and I always got A’s on my playing tests at grading periods.  It was when there wasn’t a concert or performance coming up, and I wasn’t surrounded daily by musicians and music that I struggled to practice and perform well.

I’m not entirely sure what brought all of this up today… I am reading a book about poetry that was recommended to me as a novelist/writer, because it is supposedly applicable to all forms of writing (which, the author even says this in the book, and it seems so far to be entirely true…, but it makes me want to write poetry now, too!).  Something in that got me thinking, and somehow sent me to that memory moment of embarrassment after the chair challenge with that guy.  I wonder if he even remembers it… if any of them do.  Clearly, it had some significance for me… whew…

Anyway… I’ll let that muse in the background, while I move on to other things in my day now. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Hipster Imposter

We went to a donation-based fundraiser yoga class the other day, which was focused on raising funds for a certain local pet shelter, while giving practice to some newer yoga teachers.

The class took place in a brewery.

I did not always understand what the teacher wanted me to do, and the people around me weren’t always too helpful with what they were doing, so I was behind at times, and I did some guesswork at times.

I generally feel that yoga teachers keep students in downward dog for far too long – like, I’m about to pass out by the time they start to mention maybe moving out of the position… and this is just about every time.

This brewery yoga class was no different, and even a bit worse at times on the downward dog front, so I regularly switched into child’s pose or baby pose, and then returned to downward dog whenever the teacher began whatever was next.

I also breathe so much more slowly than teachers seem to believe long, deep breathing takes… approximately three to five times slower.

I did a decent job of everything, especially considering how I didn’t know what was going on throughout half the explanation time, because I didn’t know the names of postures, and the teachers kind of took a while to clarify what I was supposed to be doing.

The class was enjoyable, nonetheless.

There were discounted draft beers afterward.

I, of course, drank my water, but we hung out for a bit so my friend could mingle with her friends, and I could be distantly social,… kind of like being social by association.

At one point, a yoga teacher came up and talked with us.

“I really like your practice,” she said directly to me.

…..

I graciously accepted the comment and, I imagine, compliment, and aimed not to laugh or be ungracious or ungrateful.

Since then, I haven’t really stopped wondering what on Earth she could have meant – I mean, did she like how I basically did my own thing every time we went into downward dog?

Because that’s kind of the only thing I did differently that could potentially be a positive….???

Haha

I have no idea, but the comment was positively hipster, and it alone made me want to burst out laughing.

Yes, I know that I am all sorts of hipster with all sorts of things in my life… I’m just not that level of hipster, you know?

But, who knows?

I did just complete my yoga certification exam today, so, I’m well on my way to achieving yet another level of hipster in the very new future… oh, and didn’t I buy a bright red scooter just the other day?

So, I guess I’m not exactly an imposter…

Like I said, I’m hipster, but I’m not beyond finding the hilarity of hipsterhood, and laughing heartily at it all. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

What(-anabe)?!

And, yet again, 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe has shown up in my life.

I was visiting a friend in her classroom today at lunchtime, and some kids needed instruction and practice on how to do quick-changes for a theatre contest this weekend.  (We won’t discuss how they’re only just learning this skill, despite their not being new to theatre and despite their being enrolled in that particular contest [of many contests] over the weekend.)  I happen to have a rather strong background in the workings of theatre, and so I took over helping them, while my friend worked with other kids on tying knots (No idea, but maybe it connects with lighting in theatre?)

Anyway, as we were about to do a practice run-through of the quick-change I’d set up, using clothing items I’d found around the classroom, one of the kids with me asked, – and somewhat snarkily (though not rudely) I might add – ‘Are there even any shows that actually need this?’ I responded with an immediate affirmative, to which he queried, ‘Like what??’
Again, immediately, and out of seemingly nowhere in my brain stores, I said, “‘The King and I’… Yes.., Yes! ‘The King and I’!”
Somewhat chastened, though still quite happy, he said an, ‘O-kay…’
I had surprised even myself with my immediate response, and wasn’t entirely sure of how I’d found the video of that memory so quickly.  “There’s actually this really great video,” I said, “of a somewhat famous quick-change from it.  I’ll pull it up in just a minute, so you can watch it.  It’s actually really cool.”

And so, I pulled up the video and played it, admiring the quick-change and the whole concept of Broadway and fabulous singing voices and all that jazz, and explaining to the students what was happening and why.  Then, we resumed our practicing.  The video, however, continued on to another video, as YouTube’s auto-play feature does.  It was the same quick-change again, causing us to look briefly at it once more, but with the scenes before and after it included.  I happened to glance up after the quick change finished, and what did I see?

You guessed it: The leading lady dancing in the arms of 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe.

And I was blown away doubly.  Because, despite the fact that I was remembering this quick-change video from “The King and I” at (I think) the Tony Awards, I had not made the connection from having read 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe’s Internet info pages the other night that his being the lead in “The King and I” several years ago was the same production.  I’d even told my mom just this weekend about his having been in it, and we talked about it briefly.

But the two pieces of information were stored in such separate cabinets and files that they hadn’t linked up yet in my head.  Until, of course, I saw the video with him in it, and it all clicked.  And then I was actually jumping up and down, declaring that it was ‘渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe, it’s 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe!’

Boy, I’d really like to interview him.

I wonder how he’ll pop up next into my life.  I can hardly wait to find out. 😀

Post-a-day 2018