dal niente

Month: January, 2009

And you call this fun?

I tried to make myself some space and slip my left knee past the instructor’s mounted guard, but I couldn’t–

  • I could still feel the aftereffects of a cramp in my left calf, so I was having trouble catching him with any burst of speed because I couldn’t move the leg quickly.
  • His weight was pinning me down pretty good (the instructor outweighs me, I’m told, by about 50 pounds of muscle) and about half of that weight was being applied to a cross-face press (he had his forarm across the side of my face and was pushing me down, which prevented me from looking to the left).
  • Because of his cross-face press, because of his sheer weight, I couldn’t divert my arms much to help pass the guard– I had to spend a lot of time defending my neck.

The thing about a cross-face press is that it’s mostly not used as a finisher, it’s used as an entry technique– you do that to cause pain in your opponent.  It hurts to be cross-faced.  If you can’t understand what I mean by a cross-face press (it not be the common term actually), imagine yourself pressing your face against the wall.  Naturally, you don’t want to put pressure on your nose, so if you really had to push hard against the wall, you’d turn your face to one side, taking the resistance on the side of your face.  A crossface press is just that– when your opponent is on his back on the ground, and you’re on top, you put your weight into you forearm and press it against his face.

A human skull however can support a surprising amount of pressure, so it’s not really a problem– but it does hurt, because of all those nerves under your cheekbones that don’t like being squashed and are telling your brain “this is not a skull’s intended usage!”

Usually the cross-face press is used to hinder someone’s vision in one direction so that you can attack from that side, or to post your weight so that you can reposition yourself.  Under heavier opponents, a well done cross-face feels like your neck is going to snap from lateral torsion.

Naturaly, I didn’t want to leave my neck unprotected, so both my arms were occupied trying to get the cross-face off.  The problem with this, and I was very aware of it at the time, is that defending your neck, because of anatomic position relative to your arms, makes defending it very bad for your arms.  Getting a crossface off you usually means putting your arms in a position where they can be taken and locked.

In the instructor’s case, he just wanted to have my arms out of the way so that he could apply a frontal naked choke.  He got the his arm behind my head, and then it was over– he already had mount, my arms were no in no position to leverage that out from under me because I was tired.

He tightened his hooks (his legs) around my hips, and pushed down with his legs while pulling up with his arms.

I heard “snap, crackle, pop” in my neck and I tapped out in a panic.

A second later, which was second number 25 into our round, I just lay there on the ground groaning.

To answer the common question, yes, I do call this fun.  I haven’t done any ground fighting in what… five years or so?  And this class, being taught in a rented room in a local high school, also had muay thai kickboxing.  It was all fun.

I have this gash on my left bicep in the shape of an echelon, it’s about 4 inches long and is about as raw as skin can get without actually bleeding.  I don’t know where that came from.   I’ve got a few bruises on my shins, and one long 3 inch bleeding scratch on my right shin, along with a swelling on my right ankle’s exterior bone.  All of my fingers hurt from fighting in gis (I’ve never done groundwork in a gi before, so I’ve never felt the need to hold on so much to things).  I’m having a bit of trouble walking because of my left calf muscle cramping up.  But yeah, I’d say it was all fun.

I did 4 rounds of grappling-only, and and one go at kickboxing.  Unlimited time.  The grappling, I didn’t win a single bout. However, I only submitted to the instructor’s naked-choke.  The other 3 that I lost, two were because I just called it quits because I ran out of gas, and the 3rd was because my calf muscle cramped up.  All of the non-instructor matches went on for about 3-4 minutes each.

When I really think about it, I don’t really know how to attack in groundfighting.  I mean, I’ve spent a fair share of time on the ground, but all I knew how to do was deffend when I was down there.  I would put myself in an offensive position, either with full mount, half mount, or side mount, but then I’d just hang in there and frustrate the opponent, try to tire them out, because basically the only technique I could remember how to do was a kimura and a heel hook, which both failed miserably.  The classics, like arm bar and triangle choke, seemed too risky because I couldn’t remember how to pre-position myself properly.  But I did remember how to deffend a pretty good slew of techniques– it was just me deffending attack after attack of the students, and foiling their attempts at getting superior position.

I think this stems from the grappling I did back at MAC.  The people who I really learned from, Terminator, Louis and Richard mostly, they all outweighed me significantly.  Naturally, I spent a lot more time trying to get away from the groundfight or just deffending against their power based initiative, so I never got to really work on my offensive game.  I’m quite happy that when first trying that stuff with a group of strangers, the deffenses kicked in!

I should also mention that after each round of grappling though that I was so exhausted I really, really thought I was going to throw up.  I was always acutely aware of the garbage can’s position in the room.  (Oh, Cardio, wherefore have you gone? Can’t you, Cheesecake and Videogames just get along?)

Kickboxing went a lot better for me, and I’d say that I actually won that round.  I wasn’t able to use much taekwondo but I just in general felt lighter on my feet than I was in the past, and I felt a lot more comfortable with my footwork.   I just in general “knew” my legs better than I had in the past.  I liked also that I could finally use my hands seriously (no hands in taekwondo) and that made me feel a lot of confidence.  Sparring in taekwondo has always been sorta iffy for me because I have a lot of issues with the ranges of fighting, due to the illegality of face punching and punching in general except under certain circumstances.  Kickboxing rules were much more natural to me, so I went to town and had a lot of fun  experimenting with what I could do with my current physiology.

I had enough physical speed, perception speed, reaction speed and flexibility in my upper body to evade face shots (never been able to do that before!) so for a while I tried an outfighter’s game, poking with the jab and the thrusting kicks, occasionally countering if he was coming in deep and hard.  This involved a lot of active footwork to maintain a range just a little  beyond kicking range, but to give the illusion of being closer by tilting my upper body forward and keeping a tight guard.

I tried “hamedo style” (if you know what this refers to, you need to get out more) where I stopped my feet completely and waited with a more open guard, ready to break the opponent’s rhythm on inward dives with hard counters.  This is mostly to conserve energy, and usually only works on people with weak mental toughness.  You can exacerbate their hesitations by alternating between big hits and feints.  Of course, when successfully feinting, you needent always use the opening to immediately punish them– you can also just let them dwell on the fact that they were had.  Let the doubt settle in.  This style of fighting for me is more about very stiff jabs, the kind of thing that Bruce Lee called a ‘straight lead punch,’ differentiated from the conventional jab in that it’s a full body punch instead of a less involved poker/feeler punch.

The final experiment was “pick a fight” style, which is like “hamedo style” except that I’m actively using my feet to constantly stay after my opponent.  I constantly violate the no-mans-land, staying always within kicking range and bobbing my upper body within his jab range.  I’m kind of a mechanical fighter in this range because I don’t have the reaction speed to infight, but I have a couple of general rules:

  •  keep both my hands up at all times protecting my chin and cheekbones, weave a bit.  I REALLY don’t like getting taged in the head. If my opponent throws a right arm out, I throw a stright left straight for his face while backing up to straight range.   If he throws a left arm out, I throw out a straight right. 
  • If I see a right leg coming up, I throw a straight left kick, and vice versa.  The point is that if we’re both throwing straights at the same time, they’ll clash and tangle.  If, however, he’s throwing curved attacks, straight wins as long as the range is right. 
  • I might also block the roundhouse kicks and counter with a deep roundhouse while they’re recovering– in general, I’m quite confident of my ability to deal with roundhouses, and I think that one for one I’m willing to endure taking a roundhouse to my hips or body if I can land a simultaneous roundhouse or immediate counter (before the pain sets in) on my opponent– I feel that in an exchange of pure kicks, I can dish out a pretty good amount of damage for my weight class.
  • “Pick a fight” style is as much about mental pressure as it is physical pressure.  It’s more effective against people who are reluctant to infight, or who have a tendancy to turn their heads away when hands start flying around.  Namely, I’m attempting to apply on someone who is uncomfortable with infighting.  It’s not true infighting, because I’m not going really deep, but the footwork is simlar.  Keeping them backing up makes it more difficult for them to kick effectively– I find that if the opponent is on the run and tries to throw a kick out there just to warn you off, a confident body check or trading hits by giving them a solid, well torqued kick versus their retreat kick can really really jam things up and damage his confidence.

It’s nice to be back at a place like this.  It feels like the MAC, to  be honest– a lot of freedom to go at your own pace, the level’s good, weightclasses vary…

Although I am constantly aware that I quit MMA training in the past because the injuries were stocking up, so I’ll have to take it safe.

Athletics To do list

  • Well, Vittek checked out a kendo place that we might’ve tried, and didn’t like it, so that looks like it’s out.
  • My badminton rackets are all out of commission (broke the strings on my last two rackets last saturday) and I don’t have time to rework them, so, badminton is temporarily out of the question. I was working this saturday so I haven’t even had the chance to play in about a week due to training at work.
  • Turns out my workplace might have bicycle “lockers” that you dump a whole bike into and just seal in.  If that’s the case, I might not need to get a city bike, and I’ll just be able to use my good one and dump it right in there without being afraid of theft.  But, I’ll have to find out more details. If it costs me something is one consideration.  A city bike would be the good investment in any case because I do need some transportation, and all I have right now is my Trek 8000, while Carlo has my folding Dahon.  But the Dahon isn’t for long or medium range travel, so…
  • In general, I think I’ve lost most of my cardio.  All the effects of training in Korea have worn off.  I think mostly what I’ve retained from it is the mental toughness to engage in training levels of difficulty that I previously though I couldn’t enture, but as far as physical differences go, I’ve reverted to my unstressed “badminton physiology”.
  • I’ve only been doing supersets with pushups and chinups to sorta feel like I’m earning the right to eat food, but that’s not doing much for me and I feel I’m losing my mental edge.
  • I will be trying out a brazilian jiu jitsu and thai boxing place that a badminton friend of mine has been going to for three months.  It’s been something like 5 years or so since I trained MMA, and all the training benefits of SK’s taekwondo regimen have pretty much worn off (thank you cheesecakes) but I’m gonna see if I can get into this and we’ll see how it goes.  First lesson is free in any case!  I’m not expected to go in there with technical skills already under my belt after all (otherwise, why go somewhere to learn something if you already know it all?) just have to be open minded and enthusiastic.  Willpower is in no shortage here!
  • I’ve got the first member for the Metropolitain Challenge bike event that I want to enter in.  He happens to be the guy I’m going to go to the BJJ/kickboxing class with, and is a former member of the MC team that I had when we did it the first time back a couple of years ago (Alfredo).  I’m glad that he’s on board, because though we all knew very little about team cycling back then, Alfredo actually really enjoyed the MC to the point that he is in a school cycling team!  I’ve suggested that since he’s the most practiced, he’d be our trainer once we put together a team and the snow thaws out.  Any of you in Montreal who want to try the biking event, let me know– I don’t want to hear none of this crap about it being ‘too hardcore’ or whatever,  i mean, none of us really knew what we were getting into when we originally did it.  You don’t go in hardcore– you go in green, and you come out a bit tougher.  That’s all there is to it– try it!
    • For those of you who want to know more about the MC experience, you can check the training logs of it at http://www.xanga.com/Jinryu/tags/mc2007/
    • The full writup of the actual event  (which is more interesting to those of you who don’t care about the technical bits of the training process and just want the darama) can be found at http://www.xanga.com/Jinryu/594391339/-metropolitain-challenge-2007—-roadside-logs-/   This is actually a pretty LONG post but it’s one of the more important ones that I’ve ever written on Xanga.
    • ANYONE can join the team!! I don’t care if you’re in shape or not, we all start somewhere.  Girls are welcome!!


***On a side note, I’m going to be applying Xanga lock to my website in light of new job– not that I’m going to be breaching patient confidentiality or anything like that, but I’m likely to be saying things about my workplace that the workplace might not always appreciate.  I don’t really care what they think of what I’m saying, unless it gets me in trouble or fired.  RSS feeds will still be up, so that’s what I recommend for those of you who aren’t actually Xangans, but I’m going to put in a first (and only) line of defense against people at work accidentally browsing an uncleared history cache.  The change will take place most likely in about a week.

“We have a motto here in Emergency, [Jinryu],” explained my new trainer. “‘You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it really helps.'” After pausing on a grave face for a moment, she let rip what I now consider her trademark rolling laughter.  It was something I’d be hearing several times between 4pm and midnight yesterday during my first go at the evening shift.

N is great.  She does everything my previous trainer did, and she has one major improvement: she’s not a bitch.  Wheras my previous trainer, M, will answer my questions with questions, N will actually answer my questions with answers.  It’s a small detail that makes all the difference.  M’s been working in Emergency for 5 years after switching in from a cardiac unit, and she loves it there.  For the first two hours, which are the busiest hours of the evening shift, she told me that I would just observe since she didn’t want me getting too overwhelmed by the wind-down of the day shift’s activities.  Really??  You mean someone is considering that it’s all a bit much for me to just dive into the work all on my own?? WOW. The whole evening shift was rather chill since the lower patient volume allowed me to take things at a much more comfortable pace after the first two hours (which were busier, as she said).

Working the evening shift, even in the same position, is really different from the day shift.  In part I have the climate of Montreal to thank– it was really quiet  yesterday evening, probably because most parents toughed it out and didn’t want to bring their children in during the awfully cold weather.

The surgical doctor was complaining at some point: “MAN, those girls at the Cafe Vienne are such bitches! They’re like these 17 or 16 year old girls who just give me so much attitude and…”

N mentions on an aside that this particular doc is really, really nice, so if he’s complaining about someone they must be totally biatches.

“But doctor, if you punched them in the face…  they’d just become your patient.  I’ll be damned if you make more work for us. You did say they were under 18.”

“Ah, but I’m not in dentistry– it’s not my problem.”

In general, though this could just be because of there being slightly less action during the evening, everyone on the evening shift team seems a lot cooler, because people just aren’t as stressed.  The team just jives better together and work a lot more to help eachother out than the day shift.  P made me a drink, mixing orange juice with sprite zero (really good!) but I mention this mostly because I don’t know him (he’s a patient care attendant and cast tech) and it was nice to see people just trying to make me feel comfortable.  We spent the evening talking about hockey, due to the Canadiens game on television.  People actually took ‘shifts’ going on break, and whenever a goal was scored we’d get a call at the desk explaining the play.

I’m not a hockey fan, so part of the discussion was actually my hockey education.

I also ran into someone in housekeeping who I used to work with at the Montreal Chest.  She brought up an interesting point– Emergency is probably one of the better places to work with, because these patients are in and out.  They leave the department either repaired, or on their way to another department where they will be repaired– however, unlike the upper floors of the hospital, which host departments like the oncology wards, there’s a much lower chance that I’ll ever have to see a child pass away.  It’s not impossible, but very unlikely.

She mentioned that at the Chest, and I agree, it wasn’t so bad because the patients at the Chest were mostly people in the advanced stages of their lives– they’d done and seen many things and though some people left worse than others, there was a lifetime that they had a go at.  Children?  Something that has traditionally made children important was their potential.  Life, in a sense, is just that– a bottle full of potential.  In an older person, dropping that bottle doesn’t spill so much because they’ve exercised it– however, with a child, it simply feels like a shame, a waste…

It’s never happened before that I’ve had to deal with the death of a child, even if it’s someone I don’t know personally, but I’m in no rush.

Regardless, I had a good day yesterday.

In passing, there was this little girl, maybe 4 years old, looking quite bored, being carried by her dad.  Her dad’s back was to me, but she could see me.  I waved and smiled like an idiot, then pretended to go back to my work when the grownups arrived. She grinned and tugged on her dad’s hair.  He didn’t notice, but she did, and that’s it.  Her mouth opened to voice “Allo!” but no sound came out, as if it was a secret.


My subscription to Xbox live, which is what allowed me to go and compete/team-up with other players online, expired as of midnight.  I’m FREE!!!

Well, sort of.  I just beat Mass Effect, but I’ve still got Devil May Cry 4 to try out.

I do have a 3 month subscription card handy, but maybe i’ll save that for my cousin since I probably intend to subscribe to an annual package anyhow, eventually.

In the meantime, I’ll take advantage of the offline time to continue living my other lives.


The weather report this morning said that the high for the next couple of days will be -20 degrees Celsius.  I was on Gears of War 2 last night and I started chit chatting with a Texan who was just saying, “Fuck, if my nipples are harder than my dick, then I know there’s a problem.”

I ran into my friend JY online yesterday night.  He lives in Richmond (Vancouver, BC).  We’d worked a year together in SK and when I came back to Canada, I stayed at his place for about a week.

JY just got back from a month long family reunion tour of Malaysia and Hong Kong.  I asked him what his plans were now, and they were probably to go back to HK to settle down.

I’ve been throwing the word ‘family’ around a lot lately.  What’s the difference between family and friends?

I think that sometimes people get caught up in the practice of maintaining a perfect record.  For example, you’ve met someone who roughly attends the same social circle as you do, so you become aquaintences.  But for some reason, if the purpose of the circle disbands, you cling to the idea that so and so is still a friend of yours.

What makes a friend, really? The answers may be a lot more utilitarian than a Care-Bear’s rose colored glasses of the worldl might provide, and for some reason, some people think that realizing the utility of friends somehow soils the relationship.

Why should it?

I’ll make an example of playing in a concert band.   When you’re in a band, you’re probably going to make friends.  Music has a subtle way of showing trace amounts of the performer– if for some reason the relationships within a band aren’t tight, in that sense that they’re aiming for a common collective vision (usually guided by the conductor) then anomolies will surface.  Even if the crowd doesn’t notice, the people in the band do.  The music’s color reflects the emotions of the performers, and that’s why it becomes necessary for the relationships between them to be good.

But does it necessitate that everyone be friends?

No.  Being friends simply makes things easier because friends are generally willing to align or tolerate the disagreement ushered by your beliefs.

Does that mean that friends are simply people who you aren’t fighting with?

Maybe not even.  There have been people who I’ve known only by fighting with them, bother literally and figuratively, and i consider them some of my best friends.

Let me get back to this issue of the ‘perfect record.’  To recap one part of the idea, sometimes people make aquaintences because of a common group, but then, when that group disolves, they decide to do the upkeep work to maintain ‘friends’ status with the people who they in fact have no more ties to.

If I was concerned with maintaining a perfect record for example, suppose I know X, who is a friend of Y, who is a friend of my personal actual friend, Z.  X is more or less two degrees apart.  We might hang out together occasionally because of Y and Z, and we’re certainly not enemies, but that make us friends?

Socially I think the practice of ‘befriending’ the whole world has further been exacerbated by things like facebook, where the verb ‘to befriend’ has actually been replaced by the verb ‘to friend’ which is similar but not quite the same.

Don’t get me wrong– if friending someone opens up dialogue between people who wouldn’t normally speak, then all the better– a lot of the world’s problems, I honestly believe, would simply dissapear if more people just talked to more different people.

But I reserve a special status for the idea of a real friend.  X is just somebody I know– at best, a potential friend.

I often talked to Zanshin about this because while out in Korea, we sometimes got these little quibs from people back home who were making a big deal out of ‘no longer being friends’ or something because he and I weren’t going through the efforts to keep in close contact with them.  Which was strange, to us, because simply, those people never really did the friend things so much when we were back home.

And that’s what I mean by this perfect record thing– some people simply cannot deal with the idea that there’s anyone in the world who doesn’t consider them a friend.  I daresay that some people just don’t know what they want in friends, so they maintain the FB style ‘friends list’ in their heads, which in reality is just a list of people who they ‘know.’

To me, friendship really is a lot more utilitarian.  I use my friends and they use me.  People make this sound really cold, but really, the respect with which you treat your friends reflects the kind of friend you are as well.

The usual fear of utilitarianism in the usual sense is that one starts to treat another like a means to an end, and then discard when it’s inconvenient.

Sorta like saying that the dude flipping at burgers will use a spatulla to do so, because making those burgers benefits him, but at the end of the day, he just throws it on the counter unwashed.

However, by the same line of thinking, there’s a difference in the utilitarianism of a McDonalds’ cookie and  Master Chef.

In the same way a musician takes good care of their instrument, a Chef ensures that his kitchen is clean, that his knives are sharp and that his ingredients are fresh.

It is not wrong to be a tool, if in the end, you all work towards something greater, is it?

And for those of you for whom this works, we can throw out a common phrase: “Instrument of God.”

Whether we believe it or not, even the modern meaning of ‘love’ happens to be genetically advantageous.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that this idea of maintaining a perfect record is kind of naive.  It’s nice to keep it going to turn potential friends into friends, but sometimes, people try too hard people who either will never be their friends or they put in too little effort to actually qualify as real friends.  They’re just people who ‘know’ eachother.

And even former true friends can diverge– that’s just natural.  People grow up, people change schools and jobs and cities and philosophies– it’ll happen.  Is the world so empty that you can’t find new people to befriend, that you must cling to the past even as you float away from it?

That said, lately I’ve been doing pretty well for myself I think.  Work training still has me stressed out because I don’t think that at this rate I’ll be able to master the tasks I need to master before set to hold the front line, but I’m trying to be optimistic by thinking that my new trainer won’t be as much of a bitch as my previous one.  I went to the “Welcoming Day” today, and that itself was kinda interesting in many ways, but that’s another post.

So, to summarize, not so cool things:

  • Trainer from hell.
  • Not enough time to learn what I need to learn before I am assigned to work alone.
  • -30 Celsius weather
  • -30 Celcius weather
  • I think I’ve been scheduled to work shifts two weekends, saturday and sunday, for two weeks in a row, but we’ll see about that.
  • I accidentally misread my schedule and skipped a shift of training (which contributes negatively to my already insufficient training), which my boss ain’t too happy about. (Ooops!)

On the flipside though, if I’m to count my blessings:

  • The job is growing on me, in that it’s moderately fun (though I have to pace myself, because at my current franticness to get shit done I can see myself burning out very quickly)
  • My physique and technique have readapted to badminton (no more aches and pains the day after!)
  • New trainer (due to different shift) starting tomorrow.
  • That really bad neck injury I got in taekwondo just a month ago? Now it’s completely gone, and I haven’t noticed any relapses!  (Yay for no relapses!)
  • I earned my second echelon (rank) in Gears of War 2 (if you play on Xbox live, look for the username Tcjinryu and we’ll chainsaw duel together).
  • I’m eating more healthy again, and more or less regularly.
  • No less than two entire bottles of soju have arrived from Korea, courtesy of Zanshin.

The final score is 7:6 for “Good Things” going on, so all in all, it ain’t flawless, but then again, what should be? Today is won, as far as I’m concerned.


It’s going to take a little while to adjust to things.

Since I’m bouncing around from day shift training to evening shift training, sleep patterns will have to be readjusted.  Because sleep has to be readjusted, I need to find out ways also of fitting in my ‘me time.’  Stress levels from picking up the tricks of the trade are  unpredictable right now, and as a result, my emotional and psychological wellness pool requires that I take actions to compensate by doing fun things, mostly going out– but that kind of stuff costs money.

Not that having fun must necessarily cost money, but sometimes, you have a day off and you really feel you should do something with it and automatically the reflex is to go out and do something that costs money because you figure it’s a surefire way to entertain yourself and others.  So far, I’m on a roll and am having a good time whenever I do spend money, but my expenses right now are exceeding my income and I need to find some way to balance this properly.  I’m still operating on my Korean work-fun ratios I think, and this just came back up because I’m working full time now.

Certain things are taking more getting used to than others, such as bi-weekly payments instead of weekly (although, I haven’t even received my first pay yet at the new job since I’ve only been there a week) and a cellphone bill that is four times as much for essentially the same services.  And oh man did I mention the sleep adjustments are killing me?  My body also feels kind of out of tune because I haven’t quite figured out the timing for any exercise (more specifically, recovery) into my week.

Essentially, right now, in general I feel very reactionary and at the mercy of life.  And while it’s fun to be doing this much stuff, and I think I’m doing a really good job of coping with my reintegration into useful (read: employed) society, I would like things to be familiar enough so that I could have liberty to slow down (if only I could) but right now, there’s just too many things going on to make it easily possible.

I was downtown last night until almost midnight and now it’s about 6:40 that I’m waking up to head off to work.  So, I haven’t slep that much.  Traditionally I’ve put forth that the ‘fun time’ is more important than the ‘rest time,’ at least in the begining when my body’s condition isn’t yet in deficit– but tonight, I’m making it a point to try and sleep early or throw in an extra nap.

I don’t even have full command of English yet so this post might not make sense, but I’ll reread it later and maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about moderation.

And that’s how we won the war.

I just got home from a dinner with some friends.

I went out also earlier this week.  Both were fun.

Seems like I’m on a roll here!

Too sleepy to say more right now, but I thought I’d write something that wasn’t me bitching about work for once.


I remember back at 새중앙, at some point Tyrone decided that he had to resign from his position as the leader of the youth group.  It came as a shock to most of us because he the sort of person who’s charisma you just sorta take forgranted– you just hear, you feel comfortable and at home, and that’s it.  When you realize how much that part of your routine that played in an intricate balance of activities that make up your life, it sets in suddenly that you must find something to compensate for the changes.

And changes are never really huge on paper.  If someone dies, what’s the difference for example?  It’s one extra section filled out on a form, “Date of Death,” that used to be empty, but which was always waiting.  Less than a mililitre of ink is taken to fill that up.  Or what about moving?  A few lines of text for your address in the subscription database for your magazines, maybe even a phone number for your bank accounts.  A new girlfriend or boyfriend?  Just a new name for your other friends to get to know.

Yet, changes are changes, and they impact us on many many levels beyond the actual intial change.

There’s a balance between instability and homeostasis.  While it is important to change, it is also important to slow down and let some roots settle in.  How does one decide where?

I made some plans before the New Year, and I think I called it right when I said I’d have to wait and see how my new job went first before figuring out how I’d go about all the other things in life.

As far as badminton goes, my current shift schedules make it impossible for me to play at Ahuntsic like I had sort of wanted to.  They have badminton twice a week with a couple of hours of training in there too, and that would’ve really helped me improve as a player.  I don’t get to play enough serious games at RsM to really improove so unless I can find a convenient time to play, the idea of starting up a new LBA league team next season is for now on the backburner.  If I can’t find some way to log the hours that will take me beyond my current natural level, there’s no point in trying to compete as far as I’m concerned.  Ditto for any plans I had to get back into mixed martial arts or to start trying out kendo.

Formal Chinese or Korean lessons are also a bit tougher because of the same timing issues, but we’ll see what progress I can make on my own.

As far as the Metropolitain Challenge goes (the 150km bike trip) I can see myself getting ready for that.  My new workplace is right up on Atwater, which is conveniently accessible by bikepaths from my house.  It’s a bit shy of a 10km trip.  When the snow and ice lets up, I’m going to find myself a street bike (I can’t use my good one, because I’d be afraid of it getting stolen from wherever I park) and not even buy a buspass (the damn things are like 70$ now anyhow, which is a big jump from pre-Korea when I was still a student and could pay half that).  That’ll theoretically log me about 20km per day, and I’ll alternate between sprint days and spinning day and help me regain my technique.  I really think that I need some sort of physical routine because right now, doing calisthetics and playing badminton once a week really don’t cut it.

As far as living arrangments go, I’ve decided that I don’t need to move out anytime soon.  I’m starting to pay rent now at my house– my parents didn’t ask for it, but I volunteered it– and I’m doing my share of the groceries, housework and cooking.  I’m not thrilled about the whole hassle of getting a drivers’ liscense but I recognize that as my grandparents get older, it’d really help things a lot to have a spare driver in the family since my sister flunked her driving test.

I’ve found, after living alone for a year, that yes, I DO need my space.  However, I also value the ability to come home after work to a family.  Even if we hardly do anything together, just the presence of people to talk to, however inconsequentially, is important for my peace of mind, at least at this point where my career takes up so much time that it prevents me from going out as much.  It doesn’t hurt either that financially, it just makes more sense to live at home.  At some point though, maybe when my sister gets back from Toronto (she’s moved there temporarily to do some studies) maybe I’ll move out since by then my job situation will be more settled.

Anyways, those’re the plans for now.


Today is Friday.

It’s the first day where I operate my position at work completely alone.  When I found out I would be working alone, I thought to myself– what the fuck?

Where to begin?

I love this job– but I’m just totally not capable of doing it yet.  For them to make me cover a shift on my own is just insane.  I don’t know if it’s my trainer’s idea or what, but it’s just crazy.

In all fairness, my trainer knows everything about the job, inside out– and her method certainly works, more or less.  But when it comes to training me, I really don’t like her method and I don’t think that it’s conductive of learning.

She basically answers my questions with questions and justifies it by saying that I’ll need to make my own mistakes so I’ll remember not to do them.  But this isn’t an isolated training environment– my mistakes have consequences, in real time, on the quality of care that the patients and their families receive.  So when I say “I don’t know where this positive biochem lab result’s ER sheet is,” it doesn’t mean “I can’t remember how to do this” it actually means “I don’t fucking KNOW HOW TO DO THIS.”

Yes, make me use a flashlight and I’ll appreciate energy conservation, batteries, and just lights in general– but don’t shove me in a dark room and then tell me to fucking reinvent the light bulb!

My trainer is a nice person outside of our work environment.  We’ve chatted alright in the breakroom, and it’s hard to believe I’m talking to the same person.  But when it comes to work, GOD I hate the procedure.  It reminds me of those old kung-fu movies where the sifu is just beating the student with a stick and no excuse is given except that it makes them tougher– I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that training hard is important, but what I should also add is that training shouldn’t just be tough for the sake of being tough, if it is tough it should be because it provides an efficient return in the long term.

One of the other workers noted though that she was surprised I didn’t seem stressed about the situation.  I guess I just don’t show it outwardly.  She also surmised that the reason why my trainer was putting me through the grinder was because I wasn’t emotionally freaking out, I was just trying to speed up and was making more mistakes that she (my trainer) would have to help me get out of since I have yet to complete my full shift’s tasks in time for the end of my shift.


I’m exhausted, and it’s been a long time since I’ve really relished a friday as much as this one.  I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow, which is why I could have stayed up as late as I wanted today, however instead of going out to dinner with some friends I decided to take it easy and just relax.  I need my downtime.

I got a letter from a former student the other day which I haven’t yet gotten around to replying to.  She actually asked me a month or so ago if I could take her in sorta as a guardian for a homestay, to which I agreed, but because of the forex situation (Korean money is worthless versus Canadian right now), she can’t afford to do so anymore.  Anyway, she writes me this letter in broken English describing how she’s unhappy because her sister and her mom got into a fight.

It’s times like this where I wish that I had learned more Korean and that learning it here would be easier.  I’m not saying that there aren’t Korean language resources available in Montreal– but the difficulty right now lies a lot in time management: I simply don’t have time to do anything.

The original reason why I wanted to learn Korean was because while I was out in Korea, I’ve dealt with loneliness of such depths that I completely reconsidered my identity as a loner.  Being a loner used to be a cool sorta thing for me in college I think– it was fun to think that I was better than everyone and knew everything and that the world really ended with me.  That’s kind of a waste of a life– the world, more accurately, begins with you.  While it does end with you, the life itself, everything in between, is about everyone.
For that reason, whenever I hear people say that ‘nobody understands them’ or whatever in a country full of their primary language, I internally scoff– that’s full of shit because there are tons of resources available to you out there.  Korean is my 4th or 5th language, and I made friends out there. To put it bluntly– you aren’t trying hard enough.  If you want something, there are steps to take to make it happen.  If people don’t ‘get you’ it’s either that you’re not explaining well, or, on the contrary: they do get it, more than you think, and your attitude bores them.

 But to return to my original thought– right now, I’m trying to find time to maintain my Korean but it’s not enough to just skim over the phrase books– I’ve pretty much lost the little hints of a Korean-English accent for some words (it’s all straight Montrealer-talk now, more or less).  I worry that if it continues though I’ll lose the ability to say anything at all.  The grammar is quickly going, and the vocabulary is also shrinking.

Which brings me to another idea, that of time management.

How is it that I’m only working 5 days a week yet have so little time to do anything?

Well, I dunno.  I guess it’s because I’ve always wanted my cake and to eat it too. 5 days a week, I work.  I also cook for my family a few times a week.  Saturdays I go to the badminton club, and that’s pretty much a whole day event.  Sundays, I spend the time with my family and my grandparents.  Recycle to monday.

I think I end up in situations like this because when given the choice between doing something for others and doing something for myself, I’ll probably end up doing things for others first.  I just need to learn to draw the line in a more convenient shape for myself.

I like my job for some reason.  All logic tells me that it isn’t worth the pay, but I enjoy it because it’s difficult.  Mind you, I’m getting ass-raped by it on a daily basis and I oftentimes am put on the spot and embarassed by my trainer, but hey– if it came easy, it might not be worth anything.  Or something.  (I do think my Trainer’s being exceptionally hardass on me, and I think it’s the point,  like I said, where it’s not even teaching me efficiently anymore, but I don’t really have a choice in this matter).

I’ve realized two things about myself, that somewhat disturb me.

  1. I am immune to the sound of crying children.
  2. I am immune to the sound of children vomiting.

This isn’t exactly a super power, but in my department, it comes in handy to stay focused when people are yelling out orders and phones are ringing off their hooks all around you.  It’s not that I don’t hear it— it’s more like it doesn’t affect me.  It doesn’t give me headaches, it doesn’t distract me, it doesn’t trigger any emotional reflexes.  

It has been a very long week.  I’m glad I made it through.  I see my job getting much harder before it gets easier, but so long as I’m not fired, I’ll truck on and eventually get it all.

The skillset required to do this kinda work is very different in paradigm from my old hospital job.

Previously, I liken it to being carpenter.  I’ve got my saw, my hammer and my screwdriver.  There isn’t anything I can’t break or make with enough wood, screws and nails– it might not be pretty, but I will build you what you need.  If you need a vehicle, I’ll carpent you a wagon.  If you need a table, I’ll do that.  Need some seige engines?  A home?  Spears?  Chopsticks?  Whatever– I can just reuse my few tools in different ways.

This new job doesn’t want a carpenter though– it wants fucking Batman.  It wants me to be able to be a master of two hundred martial arts, plus I need to be a gymnast, a concert pianist, the world’s greatest detective, an excellent pilot, a scubba diver, a marksman… etc.  There’s a shitload of things that cannot be simply “squared into a triangle” like how I could do at my old job.  Whereas the old job was about fancy footwork and improvisation, this one really is about a hundred optimized tools for a hundred separate tasks.  That’s why I’m having difficulty, because normally, I think I tend to be a bit disorganized and favor improvisation.

What happens as well is that the techniques employed are all optimized– that means the expectations reflect this as well.  Wheras my old hospital had a lot of inefficiencies that presented me with opportunities to optimize and thus buy myself a lot of leeway because I was always ahead of expectations to just do the job, my new job assumes that my techniques are optimized and thus stacks more actual work on me.

So why do I put up with it?

There was this really cute little girl today who was playing a DS.  She was just under my counter, out of view, and I hadn’t noticed her until I recognized the sounds of New Super Mario brothers and peeked over to see what was going on.

“You like Mario Bros?”  I asked.

“I like steak!” she replied between missing teeth with a big smile.

That makes my job worth it.