dal niente

Month: July, 2009

Flaky

I wonder if it’s karma catching up to me or if I’m just not as interesting as I used to be, but lately, I’ve been having a bad run of last minute flake-outs with my frontline group of friends.  The reserves have actually been a lot more reliable lately, but I suppose in fairness, I run into them and we plan things on the spot.  The frontlines though?  I don’t know what’s going on with that.

I did mention that last time we went to noraebang right?  And a group of something like 12 people got reduced to 4, only to be saved by Kazuma at the last minute with a bunch of Mandarin ringers?

Well the same thing happened last night.  I had a guest list to head out to Tokebi’s of about ten people, and it got reduced to six.

I’m not talking about situations where I tell people at the last minute “Transform and roll outl!”  These are events that have been planned five days prior for which people are giving me raincheck notices hours before the event.  What’s up with that?

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For Those About to Rock

One of the major lifestye changes that I’m going through is that I no longer have a buspass.  It’s the first time since high school that I rely solely on a bicycle for means of transportation, excluding the time I spent in Korea.  The ride to work might be just 15 minutes, but my workplace is on the eastern border of downtown.  The real shopping is deeper into the center of downtown, while Chinatown, the St-Denis area, and the Old Montreal area, where I spend a fair amount of time, is more to the west end, putting the travel time at about 30 minutes.   It adds up, and I always need some extra calories in the tank to get through my day.

Although I save about 70$ per month not needing to pay for a buspass, I’m sure I’m spending more than 70$ on additional food per month.  It’s kinda changed my physiology too, I suppose in  a good way.  Know how I was complaining before that too much of my exercise was weekend weighted, with Numac on Fridays and RsM on Saturdays?  Well, with cycling being a daily thing now, my diet and activity is much more regular.  I’ve gained some weight, which I thought wasn’t really possible– my median weight is now about 158lbs, with a flux of +/- 2 pounds.  It’s still all mostly lean weight, but it’s taking some getting used to to feeling this heavy on a regular basis.


I was almost seriously injured a couple of days ago when I was westbound on ReneLevesque.  It was pouring rain, so visibility was poor, but I think mostly what happened was that the car was relying too much on seeing car headlights rather than checking for a cyclist with a headlamp.  He was in opposite flowing traffic to me, and had come to a full stop.  Then suddenly he decided to turn left to beat the rest of the yellowlight buzzer beaters who were some distance behind me in lane who were going straight.  Unfortunately he didn’t see me at all and if I’d continued at my pedaling speed, he would have t-boned me on my bike and I’m sure I would’ve been a dead man, if not because of the impact, but beacuse after I’d be thrown onto the street I’d probably get hit by somebody else.

I jammed on my brakes by reflex and things just worked out for me.  I ride a fixie, that is to say, a road bike with a fixed gear.  That means, only one gear.  I have a reverse-pedal brake (no handbrakes) so when I want to slow down, I have to backpedal.  Sufficient force locks the back wheel entirely.  Well, I did exactly that– locked the back wheel and to my horror, I started waterskiing throught he intersection for several meters.  It was crazy because at first, my rear wheel fishtailed to the right, with my front wheel still spinning, but thankfully it corrected itself since I kept my heading straight. I fishtailed left, and I strained to heek my wheel aimed forward.

The thing is, from personal experience, trying to turn is probably one of the worst things that you can do while on a road.  If you turn too quickly, you’ll take a dive.  In my current situation, even managing a turn under those road conditions, a turn to my right would have put him directly in front of him and make me a target no less significant a target because my line would still intersect his, and a turn to the left might put me in the path of cars behind me trying to burn the yellow, which I had no idea how close they were.

My only good option, which wasn’t a good option at all, was to slow down straight, and brace for impact.  I have rear lights on me (no headlights) so hopefully if I t-boned the car or flew over his trunk, a driver behind me would notice that my lights were suddenly flying through the air or something.

It just so happened that I managed to slow just enough to miss his trunk, and the moments I was clear, I started pedaling like a madman to make sure I didn’t get rearended.

The thing is, as I was saying… this kind of situation doesn’t really scare me anymore. I mean, it does. But like… it’s not nearly as big as it probably should be.  About the only thing I got from it is another story to talk about over dinner.  No epiphanies, except that I should invest in some bright headlight.

I don’t know if it’s because of hospital work, or just biking the way I do all the time, but the whole situation probably has me a lot more blase than I probably should be.  I got over the whole situation pretty fast.

I read once that “a man without fear is a man with nothing to lose,” or that “fear is not something we want to eliminate, because the second we do, we can die.” 

Where do I stand in all that?  I’m afraid to die old, incapacitated and slowly… but that doesn’t mean I want to die young.  I don’t need much to live, but does that mean I have nothing to live for? 


I went home yesterday to visit my parents and overal, I had a really good time.  It’s strange in one way that was highlighted during my visit today– visiting my parents is now ‘an event’ and not just a regular occurence– and it’s definitely something I have to get used to after living at home for so many years, or living so far that I could never actually visit them, and just taking it for granted.  We had a barbecue out back, which is one of those things that my mom likes to do.  It’s always been a specialty of hers that, try as I might, I can never get the right ratios of spices going to really make a steak, porkchop or chickenwing taste as good as hers.

It’s kinda tough to get to LaSalle from NDG via road bike. I’ve tried two routes and both of them have really shitty roads that are hard to navigate with my tires, and I wouldn’t want to even try them at night in low visibility.  The potholes in St-Jacques are inches deep, and on the highway to cross over the train tracks to Angirnon, there’s tons of loose gravel.  I’m going to try a different route next time I go.

When I got to my place, my mom was on MSN having a video chat with my sister in Toronto.  Turns out that my sis got a job that she wanted in Montreal, so she’s going to be coming back at the end of the month.  My parents are pretty excited about this and, understandably, they’re doing everything in their power to bring their daughter home.

I’m not sure yet what’s the total impact of me leaving home, but so far it looks like my parents have mellowed out a lot and are finding a lot more time for their own hobbies. At the same time I also find that they’re taking a renewed interest in my life.  They’re trying to stay connected I guess, and I like that feeling I suppose.  They’ve never really been interested in the things I do except insofar as I might volunteer the tidbits of information.  The first tihng that happened when I got home though was that my dad took my bike into the garage and decided that we’d do a little inspection and tune up, since I don’t have a garage nor tools at my new apartment.

All the recent rain in Montreal and the dirt on the Maisoneuve underpass which I frequent almost daily has really washed out all the grease and gunked up my chain.  I flipped my bike upside down, and he held it steady as, link by link, I dabbed a bit of oil in.  He handed me a cloth.  “You don’t need to be cheap, just use as much as you need and wipe off the excess.”


“When you drive one, you start noticing that everyone’s got one,” said Nick, from Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.

Not that I have kids, but I can’t help but  notice children all around me nowadays, especially since part of my commute to work goes through Westmount Park.  I see a kid, I judge their age, I evaluate if they’re in good health, I notice if their parents are in a mode of smiley lovey or IAMSOTIRED mode.

I see a kid, 4 years old wearing a shapeless fishing hat and barely able to stand up on her feet, being curiously appraised by a ragtag trio of two seaguls and a pigeon.  I’m not sure who wanted to eat who more, but it looked like quite the standoff.


The weather in Montreal has been crazy lately– bouncing between torrential thunderstorms to blazing suns, sometimes in the span of a few hours.  I like to see that when the rain comes down, everyone dissapears, and only moments after it ebbs away, people are back on the streets, doing their thing– nothing stops a Montrealer on their day off, they’ll rock on rain or shine, and I salute them.


Recent Media:

Push (Hollywood, I don’t know any of the actors except for Dakota Fanning): I really liked this movie.  Although while in Korea it was advertised as a ‘superhero’ sort of movie, it turned feeling more like oldschool sci-fi.  It was much better than Jumper.
Practical Magic (Hollywood, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman): Decent “90s Movie,” the kinda movie that you watch when you’ve got nothign better to do.  It doesn’t dissapoint.
Office Space (Hollywood?): It wasn’t all that great overal but it is a staple for anyone who works in an office.  I loved the scene where they go to town mafia style on the fax machine out back.
P.T.U. / Police Tactical Unit (Hong Kong): Man, for a movie that’s got like 2 or 3 sequels, this movie REALLY sucked balls.  Don’t even bother.  It’s got a fair number of big name actors in it, but the movie was overdramatic, had poor action, and a shitty storyline with an overbearing soundtrack.  This movie was just painful to watch.
L.O.V.E 2009 (Mandarin):  I do love a good romance flick, but LOVE is a bit beyond my tolerance.  It’s actually a bunch of several short stories which I suppose are all clever, but watching them leaves you hurting inside afterwards because it’s all a bit too realistic for my tastes.
Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (Hollywood): I really liked this, mostly because all the characters are really believable.  Characters are awkward, annoying, frustrating, racist, etc in ways that your own friends might be, and the movie has this sense of aimlessness dialectic with purpose that I find runs parallel to real life.  This is the best movie I’ve seen in the past few weeks, along with Push (but for different reasons.)
Wushu / The Next Geneartion (Mandarin, with Sammo Hung): I don’t like how Sammo is filling in all these old-man-washout roles nowadays, and this movie is no different.  I guess he’s not the main actor but it’s pedaled as one of his movies.  I think I have a bias though– if I was ten years younger and just starting out martial arts, I would’ve loved thsi movie the way that I unfairly have an unreasonable devotion to Once Upon a Time In China movies because it’s basically a martial arts bildungsroman.  However, even as far as wuxia style movies go, this one isn’t as polished as I’d like to see in a movie with heavy hitters like Sammo Hung– the young actors might be able to do the moves, but they’re unable to convince me that the hits have any weight to them.
Red Cliff 2 (Mandarin): Another heavy hitter movie– I feel that this movie should be an FMV to Dynasty Warriors and not a movie on it’s own.  It definately has it’s share of big name actors, but it really feels more like a simplified picture book that you’d use to teach the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story to children in a simplified way than the spic film that it’s pumped up to be.  I think John Woo should stick to pistols.
The Proposal (Hollywood): This movie was simply great and has some of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a movie in a long time.  They could have done more with some areas, but overal, it’s still a movie that’s going to be above your expectations.

The List

Every day, more and more people make ‘the list.’  The list isn’t written on paper, and it doesn’t always include specific names, but you can be sure that you can be on it. Anyone can be on it.  Let me give you a few examples of people who are on the list.

  • The biker who, having no reflectors or lights on him, decides to be riding in the pitch blackness of midnight on a bike path on the wrong lane, and who almost collides with me headfirst.
  • The driver who, after already being at a full stop at a red light, decides suddenly to burn the yellow with a quick turn across an intersection and almost kill me by T-boning me on my bicycle because it’s raining and he didn’t make enough effort to really look for anything except cars crossing.
  • The guy at U-Haul who made us wait 50 minutes for our pre-reserved truck while he dealt with an elderly couple who was asking stupid questions like “and if the 5 X 6 doesn’t work, can we bring it back and rent the 5 x 10 instead?”
  • The previous U-Haul guy’s jackass boss who just stood around sipping coffee since he was apparently off duty, totally unaffected by Quynh’s and my stares of death, as well as the stares of death of the line clients behind us.
  • The parents who got on my case about the ‘incompetent doctors’ sending their kid home because there was “no cure for a drunk kid except a night of rest and some responsible parenting.”
  • The guy who invented toe-socks.
  • The waiter who, even though I ordered before my buddies arrived at the restaurant and told him to “start cooking it now because I’m in a rush” still waited until we all arrived to confirm the order.
  • The guys at that bicycle shop who tried to charge me 50$ for splashguards.  FIFTY. DOLLARS.
  • That guy at badminton who doesn’t shut up and doesn’t play seriously, even though he wants to play with the big leagues.
  • The guys at Konami, for making a game like Silent Hill: Homecoming, where the “inverted aim” toggle doesn’t actually invert your view except when holding a firearm.  That’s just retarded, seriously!  What about when I’m walking around, or holding a lead pipe??

Yeah, everyday,   Everrrrrrryday.

Where do you want to go today?

Time: 3:09AM
Batteries: 67% (Not great)
Morale: 🙂

Back on night shifts, for today and tomorrow. It’s always really tough the first overnight– that’s when you really haven’t been able to sleep enough yet (because it’s hard to sleep when you’re not tired yet) and you’re really pushing yourself to stay awake when your body normally wants to be going to be bed.

I haven’t really said much since I moved to the new place, and I’m not sure where to start– there is, in fact, a lot to say, but I’m so caught up in it all it’s difficult to find the time or way to say it all.

Well, I think the easiest way of putting it is in terms of a role playing game.  In it, there are playable characters (PCs), non-playable characters (NPCs), there are primary missions, and there are sidequests.

I think what I’m getting at is that for this chapter, I’ve really completed a crapload of sidequests and I’m back onto the main story arc of my life now.

Lets have a quick breakdown at the various sidequests that have presented themselves and been solved in the past week alone:

Forgot my bicycle lock at the apartment, and only realized when I arrived at work.  So, I bought a new one, which is also better than the cheap one I was previously using.  This also solves a much older incomplete sidequest of “Get a Good Bicycle Lock” which I thought would have been solved by [Sunshineacid], but despite numerous requests, I just haven’t been able to get the damn thing back from her because she keeps on forgetting to bring it whenever she visits from Hull. [Jinryu got the OnGuard Lock!]

Needed to outfit my bike for rainy conditions, because I’ve made it a resolution to not use a buspass for all of summer and fall.  At first this was thwarted by a bike shop less than a kilometer from my apartment in NDG– they wanted to charge me 25$ for the splash guards, plus another 25$ for installation labor.  I basically told them to go fuck themselves, then found another shop in Old Montreal that charged me some spare change over 10$ for the splash guards with free installation. [Jinryu got Splash Guards!]

A couple of days ago, I lost my glasses.  They’re the third pair of perscription glasses that I own– the first pair I lost while on a date over a year ago, the second pair I broke in a bookstore when it got caught on my satchel, and this third pair? Well, it turns out I forgot them in this awesome Indian restaurant on Jean-Talon called Bombay Mahal.  After eliminating all other possibilities, I gave the restaurant a call (it just so happened that I took their business card the last time I ate there, mostly because  was fascinated that their cards were so sturdy they could be used as throwing weapons) and to my delight, they had them.  So, I went and picked them up, even though the restaurant is pretty far away from my placv.  [Jinryu got back the Orange Glasses!]

Quynh and Ly helped me with some final FINAL moving, so the apartment now has my couches [Jinryu got the couches!] and a bigger bed [Bed Level Up!].

I got a flat tire with my bike the other day, so I had the inner tube replaced.  [Bike HP restored!]

I’ve also realized that accepting the 0.4 Night Position (that’s the technical term to describe that I get 4 guaranteed shifts every 2 weeks) has realyl worked out in my favor in terms.  If four shifts every two weeks doesn’t sound like much at all, that’s because it isn’t– but having a 0.4 position puts me on a completely differnent food chain as a ‘PPT,’ a ‘permanant part timer’ which has more priority for shifts than someone working as a ‘TPT’ (temporary part timer) or those workning simply as availablilty (who are essentially ‘bouche-trous’).  While I’m not a full timer, which means that I don’t get the full guaranteed five shifts per week, I do seem to be pulling in between 3-5 shifts per week which is just perfect for me for summertime.

To be honest, after working over 60 hours a week,

etc etc etc

I guess what I’m getting at is that in the grand metaphor of things, I’ve got my prerequisites covered and I’m really moving onto the next chapter.

Normally, it feels as if life is dictating the conditions for success– you want this or that, and in order to get there, you need to do this, this and this first.  Sometimes, you just run into random problems that need to be solved.

Well, I guess the interesting thing about where I am now is that for the first time since I can remember, I have nothing left to really solve as far as sidequests go.  There’s nothing in particular that I need to get out of the way.  At this point, I’m really free to just decide where I want to go next.

It’s a strange and foreign feeling to be where I am right now.

Heat Signature

The following is an old post that I had written up at about 3:55 AM on June 29th, 2009, but apparently, I forgot to post it up.

I’m not sure when it happened, but RsM’s changed in a lot of ways and I can’t always put my finger on it.  For those of you who don’t know what I’m talkig about when I mention RsM, or “Racketsports Montreal,” it’s a badminton group that I started with the help of Vittek back in about 2003.  It might have been 2004, I can’t exactly remember anymore.  It consisted of two parts– a badminton club, known as the “RsM Weekender Club” (now known simply as “RsM”), and an online co-op equipment store (www.RacketsportsMontreal.ca).

Of course it changed for me in a few obvious ways: I was gone for a year and I did take on partners, so it’s natural that since a lot of players moved on and new ones came to take their place, my place in there both as an exec and as a player are different.

It’s something else though. The feeling I get nowadays is that when I step into RsM, I’m the visitor.  When Vittek and I were still new on the badminton circuit or when RsM was still new as a club, we used to go around to other badminton clubs to check out how other clubs were run as well as recruit some members.  “Vagrants” we used to call ourselves, and the whole practice of vagrancy was one of those things that was necessary in order to see what was out there.  You’d go to one gym and find younger players who were more energetic and smash crazy; another might have older players that had superior tactics and placement; another might have a hodgepodge of elite class players without much technique.  Whatever the case, going to different gyms always provided a different feeling and the only thing you could be certain of was what you brought with yourself.  All bets were off as to local styles of play, paralleling the old world of martial arts where dojos would specialize in particular branches of the same game.  In the same way, we were like “dojo destroyers.” In most cases, you were the intruder, and the hometown was hostile in some subtle way or another because of some unifying spirit that each club had.

Some clubs give off more of a unified spirt than others.  The most territorial of clubs really get your blood going because they’ve got something to proove, and they’re the ones ultimately who you remember.

That’s what’s strange about RsM for me now.  When I walk in there, the fighting spirit of the place is very different– I don’t recognize it anymore, and in fact, I’m not sure I even feel it.  It’s presence is masked to me.  I feel that when I’m there, I’m at a club that has it’s ways and that I’m the visitor, looking to stir things up.

I was playing with Yu-Chih the other day– she used to be one of the players on my original LBA teams.  I met her at the very begining of my badminton experience– she was a Montreal badminton player who also happened to frequent Badminton Central, an international forum of badminton enthusiasts, and it also just so happened that she frequented the Chinatown YMCA where I made my first leaps and bounds.

Back then, she became one of my first badminton partners at the Y, along with Van, Tan, and [Machinegun Man].  She was a really competitive player who ran in circles with other ‘badminton heroes’ of mine like Demarco, Cheng Hua and Kwan.  She could beat me at singles, even though she was years older than me,  not as physically strong, and, a girl.

We played together at RsM this past Saturday for the first time in months– maybe it’s the first time since I left for Asia even? I can’t honestly remember how long it’s been.

It seemed like she had a lot of fun– it was at the end of the day and the damage my body had taken from Numac was really starting to slow me down, so I really wasn’t doing as well as I wanted to.  We lost a set 2-1, but it was pretty close and we were doing quite well.

It was fun because that reminded me of the early LBA matches where YuChih was my partner in mixed doubles.  Back then, I’d never played mixed ever before and she was always carrying me through the match because she was an excellent mixed player.  She used to always get on my case about my choice of shots and my tactics on court, and she was always sort of the ‘big sister’ of the team because out of the 6 of us, she had the most experience.

Nowadays, she’s apologetic and complains constantly that she’s not a good player anymore.  Her footwork isn’t as fast, her reflexes aren’t as sharp– she points these things out jokingly during a match and it makes me sad.  She was one of my badminton heroes back then, and I hate to see any of them come to this point.

Some of it revived while we were playing though– she’d score a shot and I’d yell out something without even thinking about it, like “Nice shot!” or “That’s the way!” or “BANG!” and she’d turn around with a smile, surprised, but nostalgic of the good old days.

I spent the earlier part of the day playing as Vittek’s partner, and that too was strange.  I haven’t had much chance to play with Vittek lately because, for one, I don’t go to RsM that often nowadays.  But when I play with him, sometimes it feels as if we’re resuming just where we left off.  I feel like I’m back on my team and to this day, even if we don’t always win our matches, there isn’t a badminton partner that I feel as syncrhonized with as Vittek.

We played for a couple of hours as a team and we were undfeated, and in many cases against people who we shouldn’t have been able to beat.

Ironically, this is kind of what upsets me about my experience at RsM– RsM’s grown soft.

I play badminton once every two weeks at most.  Sometimes I’ll go 3 or 4 weeks without.  Vittek plays about once a week.  For me to go against people who were playing the entire year that I was away in Asia, people who continue to play every week, sometimes multiple times per week, and for me to still be able to beat them?  What is that?

On one hand, I’m really glad for the sense of community that there is in RsM– while I was in Korea, I saw a photo, for example, of the entire gang at a sugar shack in a huge group photo with dozens of people together and having fun off courts.

But something’s missing.  Where’s the passion?  Where is the drive to improove the skills?

There’s nothing wrong with socializing, but I think that’s where I can’t get along with the crowd nowadays– there are very few people who truly want to win, and without that, I feel that I have very little in common with them.  It feels like it’s just a social group of friends.

Quynh, who used to be a supporter of RsM even through it’s darkest days, has quit RsM because he feels that the attitude of the club is all wrong nowadays.  His view is a bit more extreme than mine because he’s a lot more competitive than I am, but the main observation that we’ve both made is the same– RsM’s teeth have grown dull.

I don’t recognize its heat signature anymore.

And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s needing to be nostalgic to see the best of something in front of me.

However, I’ve decided that I’ve mostly moved on.  When RsM was what it was in my fondest of memories, it was a time when RsM was also the most stressful– financially it was always a challange for me to manage it and make ends meet, it was also more than a few sleepless nights of headaches to make sure that politicking with the Lakeshore Badminton Association and the Badminton Quebec tournaments went right.

I guess I was hoping that they’d figure out some way to keep that passion alive while I was gone– I mean, I was just one person, before I left for Asia, essentially running RsM on my own.  When I left, I took on 5 partners to run the place.  Don’t more hands make for lighter work, instead of more disponency?

Anyway, I’ve decided that I don’t really have the time to put much more effort into RsM.  I suppose I should be glad that at least the badminton club and store run themselves without my help at this point.  I suppose it’s a bit like parenting– this is the point where I just let it go and see what it can make of itself without me, because I can’t run it’s entire life for it.

Macaroni and Eggs

So, we’re going to stay friends, and I’m grateful for that at least.


This morning, at about 9AM, I woke up to the sound of a Fat John and Nujabes tune set as my ringer.  It was a bit earlier to wake up than I would have prefered, because I only got to bed this morning at about 2AM, but it follows in the long string of things I have to deal with on this new scenario I’ve loaded up for myself, simply entitled “What’s Next?”

That’s where I’m at now.  The financial security is there with my permanent position at the hospital.  I’m now living out in NDG and the last of my move is done.  That pretty much secures finances and shelter– clothing, I’ve got too much.

At this point, it’s a matter of getting into the groove of all that stuff, the little things that make up living an independant life.  That means phoe calls at 9AM from Quynh.

“Heya dude.  Are you awake?”

“…”

“I forgot to get the phone number of the U-Haul place.  Can you get that to me?  It’s on the contract on the kitchen table.”

“One sec.” (Shuffle, crash, billigerance.) “It’s 555-XXX-XXXX.”

“Dude, that’s my phone number. Check next to the U-Haul address, not mine.”

“Fawk.” (Rumple, crinkle.) “It’s 555-YYY-YYYY.”


I wasn’t going to go back to sleep, because my 11-hour shift starts at 11:30AM and I haven’t had breakfast yet, so I got up, started boiling some water, chopping some vegetables.

I made myself breakfast while listening to some classic rock on 97.7 and by the time I powered this laptop on, it hit me, really, that it’s all come to this– I am right here, right now.  And as strange as that seems as a revelation, or maybe even as a reiteration of a feeling previously attained but forgotten, it feels good to live in a proverbial place that I’m building and chosing a brick at a time.

Say “Kimchi”

So, I’ve taken off the binding from my hand as of yesterday.  I’m quite certain that I sprained my thumb, but at least the swelling and pain has gone down enough that I can do normal everyday things with it again.  I don’t think it’s safe to use this as a punching hand or a grappling hand yet, but, it is nice to be able to use chopsticks at least.

The situation was actually quite scary– as I mentioned, one of my punches decayed and went off course because I took a hit, and as a result, I smashed my thumb on the edge of the Terminator’s eye socket.  A sprained thumb is one thing, and it was an accident, but he could have lost an eye.  Thankfully, he got out of the situation with just a bruise.


Precious, that’s all I can say about it.  Life, that is.  There’s so much shit that can happen in an instant that is totally out of your control.  We have to be careful, yet, if all we do is survive, then what do we get out of anything?

More than five years ago, when Terminator and I were first training in BJJ at the Senshido gym in downtown Montreal (I think it’s now closed) there was this time when he threw me on the matt of the boxing ring.  In order to break my fall I threw out my arms, but for some reason, the angle of all this happening was such that with my right hand, I chopped him in the throat with all the force I’d intended to slap the ground with.

I hit the ground, suddenly surprised that he wasn’t jumping on top of me to take advantage of his throw, only to realize that he was there at the edge of the ring, clutching his throat and making this horrible wheezing noise with a red face.  It sounded like he was trying to breathe through a bubble tea straw.  It was one of the most terrifying sounds that I’d ever heard a person make in their life.

He turned out to be fine after a few minutes but there are dangerous things that happen everyday and none of it is intentional.

Some situations, we decide, we’re going to take risks.  We take precautions, but precautions never prepare us for the full extent of the unkonwn.  We decide, I’m gong to put on my mouthguard– but considering what I’m going to be doing, there is still a possibility I will lose my teeth.  Accidents happen.


This is all really a metaphor though.  Getting hurt physically always was a metaphor for other ways we can get hurt– the nice thing about the physical world though is that pyshiology is a lot easier to sort out that psychology.

We take risks every day, some small, some large. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Some days, the first step is just getting out of bed, washing your face, and smiling in the mirror even if the other half of your brain tells you there’s nothing to smile about.

Endurance

As per a suggestion by Kaiori, this post is brought to you via MS Voice Recognition software en lieu of my usually finger-typed posts.
-=-=

“Well,” said SiB, “it could be worse.  Would you rather have a boring life?”

Sometimes… I wonder.

In the past little while, things have been been just choke full of events.  Life changing events.

On monday, I beagn moving to my new apartment.  The place was filthy– the previous tennants, Quynh and Ly, were so bad at cleaning up after themselves and their husky that when I opened the door to my new bedroom tumbleweed made of little interwoven katamaris of dog hair blew across the room. I shuddered.  Then I spent a couple of hours vacuming, dusting and just in general sanitizing the place.

When I’m at my house back in LaSalle, there are little things that come automatically to me.  My brain knows how many steps there are on the stairs so I can go up or down in pitch blackness, get to the washroom, hold out my hand just where the doorknob will be.  At my new place, sometimes I wake up to the unfamiliar ceiling and in my daze think I’m in a hotel.

The move changes a lot of things in the family dynamic, or, it comes at at time when a lot of things are going wrong.  With the help of Nimbus and her mom, who own a trailer, I got the last of my necessary furniture moved on the 1st, Canada Day.  Because I was moving I didn’t get the chance to spend the day with my family, so they went ahead and did something on their own.  My sister was in town from Toronto temporarily for a job interview, so my family and my grandparents were going to go out for a meal.

But something happened, and I don’t know exactly how or why, because everyone’s giving me different storise that are too crosshatched with anger and shame that I’m not getting a complete story anywhere.  My mom got into this epic fight with [Aunt SH] and the basic result is that, after 26 years of my life, their relationship has come down to “We’re done.  I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

My dad also got into a huge fight with [Aunt SL] last week, one that got so out of hand that he slammed the phone down on her. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, and decided I didn’t want to talk about it.

I don’t mention this just to gripe… but the fact is, for some reason my family is undergoing this huge shakedown.  It’s happening right in front of me, right beside me, or behind me– and there’s nothing that I feel I can do about it.

Are these changes for the better?

I don’t know.

Instinctively I feel that family is family and that it should last, no matter what.  But over the years I have come to understand that there’s a difference between doing somethign out of love and something out of duty.  In chinese families it seems that the two are often confused. I’ve also been reminded time and time again that you can’t change people unless they want to change, and that the best you can do is to encourage it by leaving doors open for them.

-=-=-=-

Deep down, in the back of my head, and I know that this is unreasonable, but

perhaps what’s going on nowadays has been my influence on the family?

I have a mixed reputation in the family.  I’m sort of the black sheep, and yet, the one who turned out okay.  Among all my cousins and even my sister, nobody in the family has gotten into more trouble than me for crime against the family, and just generally, being a bad person.  I think I was the one who first highlighted that there was  a difference between love and duty.  I did a lot of thigns because I felt that they were expected of me, but I seldom did them because I wanted to.

But that wasn’t, nor is it, always the case.  I mean, I can say that after those rebellious years, I actually came to love my family again, in the same way that I did before the rebellion during the simpler times of my poor but spoiled childhood.  

It’s after the rebellion during my college years that I started acting a bit more responsibly and getting my shit together, finishing college, and then univeristy, and taking more care of family affairs.

But I think the idea that I brought to the family during my college indescritions  was that “I’m doing this because you’re telling me to, not because I want to.” Or, “I’m doing this just because you’re my parents, and I owe you, and no other reason.”

Those were among some of the hurtful things that I told my folks back when I was younger.

These ideas aren’t necessarily wrong– but they’re the kind of ideas you’d use in a workplace, or at a business, where everyone is expendable and the relationships you have are based on work function.  That’s not the way to deal with family, I think.

But I think that now, some of those ideas stuck.

Because now, the network of Aunts and Uncles and my parents are just starting to openly hate on eachother.  It’s like an office, with all the politics, the power plays, the wheeling and dealing. Not a funcional, well run office– but one rife with dissent and suspicion. People are starting to take stabs at eachother on subjects that normally everyone would just ignore to keep the peace.

Is this good?  I mean, it’s more honest, it’s more transparent I suppose… but is it a step up?  That, I’m not sure of.

The thing is, honesty isn’t an ideal– it’s a method.  You can be honest or dishonest with the goal of getting to a certain goal.

Right now, my family and the exteneded family are being more honest with eachother than they’ve ever been– that in itself isn’t bad.  What is bad though is that the ideals for which they’re operating have nothing to do with the unity of the family.

Somehow, family life seemed to suddenly explode– I’m not on bad terms with anyone in the family, and in fact, I’m on better terms with everyone than ever before in the past, but after my grandfather’s last hospitalization everyone’s just been at eachothers’ throats.  I don’t know how things used to stay in check.  But now…

… it just hurts for me to see it like this.  I can’t elaborate anymore on it than that, and I don’t think I need to.  It just hurts.

-=-=-=-=-

Now that I live in NDG and not LaSalle, I’m a 12 minute bicycle ride away from work and 30 minutes away from the furthest end of downtown Montreal.

A couple of days ago I asked out a girl who I’ve known for years.  I can’t exactly put my finger on what changed that would make me do so, because it’s a number of things, but I guess it’s just that wheras she was just always there, sorta an acquaintance, she’s started hanging out with my group more often ever since I came back from Korea and that just was the way it began.  I never looked at her ‘this way’ before in the past but I guess who she became and who I became during the year away from Canada changed something about the way I see all that.

There’s always this rule in circles of friends that you don’t date friends, nor do you try, because that kinda stuff gets complicated real fast.  I’m aware of that ‘rule’ and I beleive in it.  For a time I just ignored that I had feelings for her, telling myself that this would lead to trouble and that I should just pretend nothing was going on in my head.  The feeling would pass.

It didn’t.  I don’t like being out of control in my life, but this was out of my control.  At some point it was just getting unbearable so I decided that, for better or worse, I had to know if she was interested in any way.  

Fate, though, seemed totally against me asking her out.

The first attempt was just a random visit to her workplace on a whim.  Turns out she wasn’t there, so it was taken out of my hands completely.  The next time I intended to ask, we went to see a movie together, but one of her best friends came along, which wasn’t part of the plan, and I couldn’t find an appropriate moment.

You have to understand that in my head, this isn’t normally difficult.  I don’t have trouble asking out a girl I’m interested in normally.  I don’t ask out random people, I just can’t do it like that, that’s not my personality.  But she’s not a random person.  And normally, if I’m interested in someone, I don’t have problems asking someone out on a date.

All this difficulty and all this buildup?  It is a first.  I have my theories why.  Part of it is because of this whole thing where we kinda but not really have known eachother for a long time.  Part of it is because of who she is, and by that, I mean all that good stuff and bad stuff that I want to know better.  There are other reasons, but suffice it to say that it was really difficult, titanically so, for me to get the nerve to ask her out.  So whenever I had set it upon myself to ask, and the situation didn’t allow for it, it was like taking a punch in the face.  It’s like in a Street Fighter game where you spend all this time building up your super meter, and then when you finally fire it off, something goes wrong and it’s totally wasted.

Well, that’s what it felt like.  Everytime I gathered that much rage, frustration or courage within me, all that energy, and I tried to channel it into “How’d you like to go on a date with me?” somehow, the situation was such that I couldn’t do it.  It felt like I was getting cockblocked by God, who was telling me “don’t try to date friends.”

I really felt that it was something that should be done face to face but then, on Canada day, late at night after I’d finished moving, I was out at the Montreal Jazz Festival having a good time by myself.  It’s one thing that I enjoy– I like being in a crowd of people, just basically getting lost and wandering around.  It makes me feel more alive, and the music certainlly helps.

I figured at that point, I was in such a good mood– if I was ever going to get rejected, no time like now to endure the hit, right?  Let me give her a call.

“The person you are trying to reach is unavailable,” said the carrier operator; her phnoe was turned off, or she was out of reception range.

I was just… dumbfounded.  Total disbeleif at my luck.  My super meter was at zero again.

-=-=-=-

Meanwhile, and I didn’t know this was going on until my parents explained it today, my mom and aunt had been fighting at my grandparents for a fair stretch of time.  My sister had even started crying.

My sister’s no pushover– but like anyone else, part of her ultimate strength is that she’s human.  She’s a lot closer to my mother than I am, and she’s also really close to my [Aunt SH], and for her to see the two of them telling eachother off?  I guess it was just too much.

I’m really protective of my younger sister in some ways.  I don’t interfere with her life or anything but I try my best to be a good older brother and not just an older bother.  But it’s an impossible situation when the source of my sister’s pain is my family, because I can’t change my family.  Not for her, not for myself even.

-=-=-=-

Eventually, I just picked a random moment the day after Canada day to just call her up and ask her out.  It was kinda an overcast moment outside as I stepped out of the hospital in my scrubs during my dinner break.  I didn’t really have a plan about how to ask, so I figured I’d just say the first thing that came to my mind.  How’d you like to go out on a date with me.

Are you serious? was the reply.  No.  YES! I’m serious.

“can I call you back?”

And that’s where I’m at now.  Trying to pretend that I can get on with the rest of my life, but really, with an idle moment, I check my phone to see if I’ve missed any calls.


At work last week, there was a lady who had some kids.  She was a total bitch to me, but I got the job done, and I got it done really fast.  It turned out her kid had nothing serious.

And you know what? She thanked me.  I thought that when she was lined up behind some other parents that she was going to start bitching at me again, but instead, she actually said

“Thank you.  Thank you so much.  You were awesome, you were efficient.  Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate that you put up with all this bullshit all day.”

People sometimes say thank you, mind you.  But it’s never been someone who was making my life miserable and turned around.  She didn’t have to say thank you, is my point.  It felt good to hear that she had.


The longest relationship I’ve had in a long while was about six months, and after that, I was in Korea and was dating on and off.  I never really let anything serious happen because on some level I guess I wasn’t willing to commit to a country that I wasn’t sure I’d be staying in or not.

It was kind of easy out there– I knew I was probably leaving, they knew I was probably leaving, we could just have fun.

The fact of the matter is though that those relationships, however sweet they were by lakesides, sunsets, sunrises or over a galbi grill a cold winter evening with soju stains on the tables and on our lips, they’ve been reduced to random emails just for the sake up upkeep.  Sometimes I send them, sometimes they do, just to say “Hello, remember me? How’s it going?” during a coincident moment of boredom and initiative.

But I don’t need those people any more.  The distance makes it easy to pretend that everyone I knew in Korea was just a chapter in a book that I may have written but which, finally, is just that– history.  Mystory.  Half commited flings and shits and giggles.  Very real emotions– but no intended permanence, despite their intensity.

Now?

Now this is Montreal 2.0 and that’s what I want.

With family falling apart, with all the friends I made in the last year more distant than ever, I just want to make something that will last.

BLAM

adskjlf

I was sparring with terminator and

he threw a jab, cross, hook

i evaded the jab and cross, attempted to counter his lead left hook hook with a right hook while slipping
my timing was wrong

his gloved fist slammed into my ear, I got completely disoriented and heard th e ocean in my right ear for a moment, blasting

my own hook fell apart and i hooked him really hard, but my fist’s trajectory diverted so i landed with only my thumb’s knuckled on the bony area just around the outside of his eye

he’s got a serious looking black bruise around the ring of his eye and i’ve sprained my thumb badly enough that i’m having a lot of difficulty typing– it reallllllly hurts, and i’m taking care of it and it’s notrhing really serious

but until it getsb etter i’m not going to be posting very much
it’s really difficult without a thumb to use a keyboard!!!

Katsujinken

The other day while I was at work,

I gave a death glare to a toddler at work who had suddenly came to my side and reached up to tug on my wrist with both of his hands.  He probably wanted nothing at all, his intent was harmless, but as his small hands went around my wrist and his muscles flexed his grip, every alarm in my body went off.  I snatched my hand back, backpedaled a step and was suddenly on the balls of my feet.  He’d come out of nowhere.

You see,

last week at Numac, I got caught twice with the full brunt of two roundhouse kicks, meant to cut me in two at the waist, but managed to block them just at the last moment with my arm.  The incoming shin dealt a lot of damage to my forearm at the area really close to my wrist– nothing’s broken, but the bone bruised and even a week later, even touching it hurts.  So even when some little kid just tries to hold my hand, it feels like someone is trying to break my arm.  Naturally, probably not  unlike anyone else out there, my usual reaction to the sensation of my arm getting stressed to that extent is that my ‘killer intent’ comes out, I can’t even control it.

This is the second time that that’s happened.  When I injured my foot way back in february or so, while I was at work, an errant kid was running past me at work and stepped on my instep, sending shooting pains all the way from my foot right to my head.

I think that this is where a certain amount of training is necessary, but I have no idea how to go about it.  The thing is, I’ve developed a few reflexes from a standstill non-combat situation.  I roll with damage, I absorb hits, I bend to prevent joint damage, I go limp or breakfall when my balance dissapears.  Doesn’t always work but if a situation arises that my body is accustomed to, it reacts on it’s own.  I’ve prevented a lot everydaylife injuries from having some of those things hardwired in over the years.  But there are occasions where I just overreact.

And while a self-deffensive reaction is useful… I think it’s bad because it’s … “auto-pilot.”  I mean, if the world were full of dangerous people, maybe that would be useful.  But the fact is, there are more normal, non-hostile people out there in modern society than there are hostile people, so that kind of reaction to accidents is just too much.  I suppose I just need to be more aware about my surroundings and process everything in real time instead of reacting to things so much.

That said, there’s something really different about children.  They’re completely different as far as their ‘intent’ signatures go, and it’s something that I noticed while I used to be teaching, especially with students who were very young.  Part of their deadliness is that they don’t know the inappropriateness or the dangers of what it is they’re doing sometimes– and thus, their body language is different from grown adults.  By all rights, unless they’re holding sharp objects, anyone shorter than my chest really shouldn’t rank very high on a threat assessment, but we shouldn’t discount what we know of minjas (midget ninjas).  A lot of their ability comes from stealth and the ability to hide their auras in plain sight.

Children just naturally go with the flow of things and in some ways mask their intentions, allong them to deliver critical attacks without us even seeing them coming.  They’re able to penetrate into my personal space without setting off any of the same alarms that an a adult might, and they get you from angles you don’t expect.  Not only that, but after they’ve landed a first attack, the lack of any aura signature laced to the attack makes it momentarily confusing, and leaves you open to a follow up.

Children have this natural ability to them that I envy in some ways.  For them, it’s so much simpler to just go forth with action without hesitation.