Nothing Romantic

12 07 2011

“You know,” I told my Dad earlier today, “There is nothing romantic about a summer rain in Seattle. Rain is only romantic if you live somewhere where it doesn’t rain ALL THE TIME.”
He nodded and grabbed his Snapple. “Yep. Rain is only romantic when it’s in a song about someone else.”

Needless to say, we’re on our third rainstorm today and it’s getting old fast.

In other news, I’m watching parts of “Kill Bill”. It’s pretty much just as weird and bloody as I remember. Suddenly I recall why I never sat through the whole thing in the first place. Also, what’s up with the asian kid in the plaid skirt? Did plaid suddenly become big in Asia? Lots of Scottish people wandering over for really good sticky rice and then forgetting to leave? Also, someone should tell her that her weapon was a poor choice. Things that work on inertia are insanely difficult to control.

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, this is one of those stream-of-consciousness posts that happen when I’m too awake to sleep but not creative enough to paint.

Just watched a couple of really impressive martial arts movies: Ip Man and Ip Man 2. They’re both on Netflix instant watch if you want to check them out. Best part is that they are based on a true story. Second best part is that they are gloriously sparse on wire work. I detest martial arts movies that rely on wire work. (Another reason not to like Kill Bill). If you are going to make a movie about fighting the fighting should at least APPEAR realistic. Wire work is great for things like Matrix, where you are expected to suspend disbelief. But if the physics looks off in a real martial arts movie I get irritated and stop watching. Note- I’ve always been like this, even before I’d ever taken a Kempo lesson.

(Can someone remind me why Lucy Lui is the bad guy? I’m having trouble figuring out the stare-down that is happening right now…)

I just gave up on Kill Bill. Too boring. (Yes, I said BORING).

Basically my life has devolved (evolved?) into Kempo and painting. Supposedly I still have a job but I haven’t been there in four or five days so work is fading into a dim memory. The blessed haze of forgetfulness has settled over my memories of the box office, the house managing and most of all the lobby attending. Instead of work I work out. Thrice yesterday and a really intense weight day today mean that my body is gloriously gelatinous. Tomorrow I’m getting up and going for an hour long run. Hooray! (Means I get to use my new running watch!)

I’ve been working on some writing stuff lately, too, and lots of drawing. Also, I’m feeling my feelings to the best of my ability. Which is hard, because I have a lot of feelings these days.

Back to drawing. So long and thanks for all the fish!


Art, Martial Arts

7 07 2011

A little over a month ago I was driving home from karate exercising my ability to dream. “What,” I asked myself, “is your perfect way to spend next year?” The answer was instantaneous, “art class during the day and karate at night”. The whole concept was so exciting that I went home and looked up places to take art classes.

Now, it’s not quite as easy as enrolling in University. Primarily because University art courses are… shall we say… lacking. If I wanted to sit in a room and listen to someone drone on about Art History I’d go to University. Since I actually want to improve my SKILL SET, I needed something else. Enter The Gage Academy. For those of you who know the art world, it’s an Atelier. For those who can’t even pronounce “Atelier”, it’s an apprenticeship. The student spends 30-40 hours a week in their corner of the studios completing assignments and being critiqued.  Learning through DOING. It’s not officially decided but I did get accepted and I would love to go.

Also, Fins Bistro has put me on the list of artists. I’ll be having a show down there during the month of August. Of course, as of the 30 day mark I had not one single painting prepared. Luckily I paint fast so I should be ok.

In the world of martial arts things are moving on apace. I’m a yellow belt now and had my first night of sparring last night. (You’ll never know what a thrill it is for an ex-ballerina to own a mouth guard!) Naturally, most of the night was spent in “flailing newb” mode, but there was a lot of learning happening so I don’t mind. You can bet I’ll be at every sparring class between now and the tournament. If I’m going to pay the entrance fee and buy the sparring gear I better freaking win at least once!

My love of kempo continues undimmed in the face of a bruised/broken second toe, a collection of bruises and bumps that span the colours of the rainbow and a bunch of strained neck muscles. What I do not love is sparring with guys who take one look at me and go into “got something to prove” mode. Frankly guys, I’m a YELLOW BELT, you don’t have to throw a punch like Muhammad Ali in order to break my guard. I’m not that skilled. Just take a deep breath and be sneaky instead of coming at me with brute force. Please. Kthanksbye.

Point being, life is good.

Adventures in Paradise

23 06 2011

I have found a place where it is constantly 80 degrees and yet one is rarely too hot. Welcome to Maui, where sun shines and trade winds blow and the pool is never far away. Of course, even in paradise one must babysit one’s alabaster skin. It’s a bit of a bother that one can never step outside without first dousing oneself in SPF 2000, and even more of a bother that said sunscreen makes a greasy mess of long hair. Nevertheless it is gorgeous here and we have a well-shaded deck where one can enjoy the sun without being actually touched by it.

Currently I am sitting on aforementioned deck or “lanai” watching kids play in the pool and little birds fight each other for breakfast crumbs left on the floor of the lanai. The surf has been unusually high here due to a recent storm in New Zealand so snorkeling or paddle-boarding had to be abandoned for another day. It’s the first day that I haven’t gone in the water at all, actually. It’s been more of a reading/drawing/hanging out kind of day.

Yesterday we braved aforementioned high surf and went up to Napili to play in the waves. My five Mansours and the other six Mansours trooped out of our condo complex looking like nothing so much as a colorful cattle drive. Twelve of us make almost a parade with our brightly coloured swimsuit cover-ups and board shorts. It’s just a short trip to the beach, maybe five minutes on foot.

Let me tell you, when locals say “high surf” they ain’t kidding. The waves on Napili (previously sedate, friendly and un-impressive)  were sweeping up to the shrubberies and above the heads of the swimmers. Lynn, the youngest of the other Mansours and I walked down to the sheltered area of the beach and floated around. And I would have been fine if I’d stayed there. Instead, foolishly, I walked back toward the center of the beach and came across Barry who invited me to “dive into the waves”.

I know. I’m an idiot.  Read the rest of this entry »

Indiana Jones, Butt-Cracks, and How to Climb a Banyan Tree

18 06 2011

We won’t say who but SOMEONE had the brilliant idea to drive the Hana Highway yesterday. Honestly I was non-plussed about the idea but phrases like “The Garden of Eden” and “Once in a Lifetime” and “Not to be Missed!” were bandied about with such extraordinary enthusiasm that I became convinced. How bad could a road trip in Hawaii be, even if it did take “all day”?

Oh. Oh how unimaginative I was, that younger and more foolish version of myself.

The day started at 5:30 am. I woke up and dragged myself down to the kitchen where I scrambled two eggs and downed an enormous glass of juice. Mostly to offset the intense dizziness that I’d been battling all night. We were on the road by 6:45 and made a quick stop at Starbucks/Safeway for water and snacks.

Now, it was early decided that we would take both Barry’s convertible jeep and my Nissan Sentra. To all fit in the jeep one of us would have had to sit in the way back and my porcelein skin would not have survived all day exposure to the sun.

The sun that, it may be noted, rarely made an appearance.

So there we were, me driving my “Gray Ducky of Doom” following Captain Speedy in his black jeep. Let it also be noted that all three of the kids opted to ride with me. Turns out they were wiser than they could have known. About fifteen minutes into the drive the rain started so we all pulled over and I sat in the Ducky and watched Barry and Lynn scramble to get the top on the jeep. It’s a sight that we were able to enjoy at least fourteen times throughout the day as Barry took off then replaced the top sporadically.

Somewhere in the middle of Maui we were treated to a double rainbow and somewhere farther along we got to see some Eucalyptus trees. They are WORTH pulling over to enjoy.

And then it started…. three hours of single-lane switchbacks through mountainous, ravine-laced mountains. I’m told that this portion of the drive was the “Garden of Eden” that I’d heard tell of, and it may well have been. You don’t get to enjoy much of Eden when you’re focused on keeping on the road and staying close to the ass-end of the lead vehicle. Never mind the fact that I had a car FULL of nausea-prone young people who were also growing hungry. Hungry Mansours are no joke, let me tell you.  Indiana Jones would have wet himself. (Meghan’s are naturally bold and fearless, though, so I was cranky but undaunted!) Read the rest of this entry »

Of Snorkeling, Scissor-Sweeps and Sunshine

15 06 2011

For those of you who did not know, I am spending a couple of weeks vacationing in Maui. The timing could not have been better. The past two weeks have been incredibly intense work-wise. Intense to the point that I wasn’t really eating whole meals for days at a time. And to top it off, last Saturday I had my very first karate test.

In fact, let’s lead off with the karate test story.

Part of the Kempo culture is that you NEVER tell a white belt anything about testing. You tell them to drink water and show up and nothing else. So, like the dutiful Padawan, I drank a ton of water, ate a protein bar, cleaned my gi and showed up. Now, let me state once again for the record that I’m in good shape. Not fantastic shape- I’m no Olympian- but I can run for an hour and do a decent number of push-ups etc. Also, I used to dance three and four times a week and have a personal trainer. And in all my experience I have never had a workout as difficult as my yellow belt test. To be fair, part of the difficulty was in the emotional strain of a testing environment. They didn’t shred me completely but the Senseis certainly pounded me into a pulp.  Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone’s got a Fortress

5 06 2011

Growing up I had a deep and abiding desire to be Superman. Not because of the flying or the super strength or even the excellent hair (though it IS excellent) but rather because he had a super cool second home. That’s right- I was jealous of the Fortress of Solitude. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I still am completely jealous of the caped-man’s ice palace.

It’s been an interesting month. Begun with great disappointment, filled with work of various kinds, and replete with new and happy experiences. You can imagine the appeal of a far-removed and silent room. The older I get, though, the more I am able to remember that everyone who knows the Lord HAS a fortress of solitude. It’s an interior castle and easily accessed.

In other news the latest show at the Theatre has been more enjoyable than I anticipated. I’ve found some really good sorts among the cast and enjoy my nightly talks with various people. I’ve learned a few things about kung fu movies and horrified everyone with my karate bruises. Today I had to have one of my old buddies smell-check my hair. (The guy behind the theatre has a smoker and when I went outside to do the recycling I came in smelling of woodsmoke and bacon. Luckily we determined that as long as no-one smelt my hair I’d be ok).

It’s hard for me to find  the right blog topics. When things are going well I haven’t the time to write and when things are hard I am wary of “spilling my guts” all over the internet. Especially when the people who read this would gain little from full disclosure.

Suffice it to say that work is an emotional challenge, karate is continuously awesome and JCS is a twice-weekly ego boost.

No Story Ends in Sadness

3 05 2011

Last Sunday I had the very rare pleasure of going to church on a Sunday. (Rare more that it was a ‘pleasure’ than rare in occurrence). My friend Matthew Wolfe has a home church at his place in Wallingford, “two doors down from Archie McPhees”. If you know anything about Seattle culture you can picture the awesomeness inherent in church twenty feet from the world’s best joke shop. Combine the fact that it was a sunny day and Rachel joined me on my adventure and you have the perfect morning.

Also, there was food.

I won’t go into a ton of detail about the service. Suffice it to say that I had a wonderful time and plan on making a habit out of it. One of the things we talked about, though, was sitting down with Jesus and asking Him to show you where He was in your moments of deepest pain. The idea being that we don’t know all of our own story and sometimes all we can see is the sadness and not the glory that was so close. My brain was going a thousand miles a minute- it’s been a pain-full couple of weeks- but my one observation was that “with Him, no story ends in tragedy”. The sadness, the pain, the disappointment and discouragement are just beginnings.

Granted, sometimes they are beginnings that we would gladly skip, but that’s not what the journey is about.

And, on the flip side of some serious disappointment and pain, I can honestly say that one lesson that I have learned is to hold people lightly. Of course, I have yet to learn how not to get frustrated when people repeat the old fashioned “it will all work out” platitude to me. If I didn’t know that it would all work out then I would have flown to New York and jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge before now. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, people, and telling the heartsick to be hopeful is decidedly unhelpful. You just have to let girls cry.

But I don’t live out of my pain. My joy is ten times more powerful and life, when all is said and done, is FUN.

Excuse me, I have karate to practice.