Archive for the ‘30 Days of Me’ Category

Day 30 is one last moment.

(Wow, that means I’ve actually written thirty posts almost every day in succession. Woohoo! My bloggy experiment is a success.)

J and I went to a Celtic session yesterday in a place called Squaw Valley, a touristy little ski resort area around Lake Tahoe. The sun was setting on the long drive home, and the tiny sliver of waxing moon hung long over the treetops. While J talked to his kids on the phone, I mused to myself how the moon had very little sunlight to share… then realized, no, that’s not it.

The moon always has half sunlight and half darkness; it just has differing amounts of light to share with the rest of the world, depending on the day. It made me think of the spoon theory and how folks’ spoons vary by day – sometimes everything gets done, and other times, it’s a Herculean feat just to get out of bed and get dressed.

And it wound up being put to music in my head:

We are like the moon:
equal parts shadow and light.
The only difference lies in
how we face the world each day.

Day 29 is my aspirations.

Now, an aspiration can be a desire or a goal, so I’ll choose two things where the definitions overlap:

I’ve talked a lot about making music in the past few weeks, so I’ll try not to further inundate you, but that is most definitely an aspiration. I don’t know where my efforts will take me – to recording MP3s at home, to local open mic nights, or to a simple mastery of and happiness in crafting music for my own enjoyment. The end result doesn’t matter right now – the journey, and the experience, do.

I’ve talked a bit about martial arts, but little in detail. I study Bujinkan ninjutsu with my partner, who is shodan (a first-degree blackbelt). My intention in ninjutsu is to also achieve shodan – not the belt itself, nor the certificate, nor the formal acknowledgement, but the physical and mental mastery. I want to know, kinetically and consciously, every technique; I want all the terminology and names memorized and comprehended; I want to be able to put together a response to every question and every move that works. I want to know my art so well that I can stop thinking about it and simply move, secure in the competency of my body and my muscle memory. I want to reach that ledge where I have learned enough that I can truly begin to train: shodan is only the beginning.

And, in time, with much more experience, I think I might like to help train others. My sensei in Colorado changed everything for me, and I would like the opportunity to be that transformative for those who seek it out.

Day 28 is something that I miss.

Well, it says something and not someone or somewhere, which makes it very hard, because what I miss are people and places.

I miss my sister, and my parents, and the people that I lost, and my sensei in Colorado, and my friends everywhere.

I miss my apartment in Colorado, and West Virginia, and the ocean, and the restaurants that became regular haunts in Colorado (oh, Tuk Tuk Thai).

The only thing I miss is my temporarily-deceased terabyte harddrive, which has all of my music (over 100 gigs). Re-ripping that many CDs is a huge pain, and a lot of that was digital purchase, most of which cannot be re-downloaded without paying for it again. J’s iPod has most of that music, and I’ve re-loaded a lot of it onto the surviving 500G drive, but I still miss having the entire collection available in one place. Same with the movies and series we had, as well.

Still, it feels like music is an experience to fondly remember, not an object to miss.

Day 27 is my favorite place.

As usual, I don’t have a singular favorite, so I’ll pick one from the list of my most-loved places: Eureka, California.

Eureka is in the north, about two hours south of the Oregon border, and right along the coast. It’s not so much the town that draws me there but the entire area. The northwest coast, the land that stretches from Eureka up to Seattle, Washington, is incredible. It is gorgeous in a way I didn’t know existed until I saw it myself.

Eureka itself is nice; it’s the perfect size for me, big enough to have convenience and options while staying small enough that people still look you in the eye and run indie shops. The Old Town quarter is fantastic and full of nooks and crannies that cradle awesome things, like a little gourd kalimba that kept a part of my heart after I played it. The temperatures are wonderful, ranging from 50-80*F throughout the year, with plenty of rain and mist from the ocean.

But the land around Eureka is what’s so wildly magical. The redwoods reach to the sky like columns holding up the planet’s roof; beneath them, the air is still and silent and somehow sacred. Fallen boughs and trunks can be taller than you and me, and it would taken half a dozen people to link hands and wrap arms around a standing tree’s base. Moss and ferns grow everywhere and make everything a lush green, and wherever the sunlight is blocked from the canopy, the ground is covered with natural debris in the midst of composting into soil. It’s so quiet away from the roads, some combination of church and library and empty mountain peak. I felt so young among these trees that are a hundred times my age.

And the ocean, oh, the ocean. Not only are these incredibly green forests everywhere, not only does the wind smell of brine and mist, not only does the land rise in fall in voluptuous hills, there is the ocean with all its wonder. The water’s very cold almost all the time, so far north, but it licks at the sandy shores regardless of how many toes it’ll numb and how many children will go shrieking away from the surf. There are innumerable hidden crevices along the coastline, inlets rimmed with rock where other people don’t go, where there’s just sand and seaweed and shells and surf.

I fell in love with the land, and the town of Eureka, as soon as I first saw it. And I am still in love.

Day 26 is my fears.

I fear J’s death.

I fear being insufficient.

I fear being broken, rendered incapable, by age or injury.

But I don’t fear my own death.

I don’t fear being insignificant to the world.

And I don’t fear pain.

Day 25 is a first.

I can’t pick just one, so have a handful:

My first car was a ’93 Chevrolet Cavalier, teal and two-door. It was 800$ and could not get up to 60 mph even when going downhill. I named him Sora and had him for some two years before upgrading to a car that could manage a highway commute to college.

My first job was at Morgan’s Foodland Fresh, a local grocery store. The owner/manager had known my mom for years and didn’t mind taking on a total newbie as a cashier. I loved working there and only stopped because I moved an hour away for college.

My first martial art was tae kwon do chung do kwan, the original school of TKD and the one they still teach as combat-oriented. I’ve never wanted to learn any kind of sportsy or competitive martial arts, and chung do kwan fit the bill of being really enjoyable without the sport connotation. I was a teenager and trained for two years, not terribly intensively (I was a slacker); my mom and I took three classes a week together, and she regularly kicked my ass with her street-brawling and football-charging tendencies. Chung do kwan inspired a lifelong interest in martial arts and led me to seek another sensei when I later moved to Colorado.

My first novel was The Dark Wars, hand-written in a series of five spiral-bound notebooks. I only worked on the story during school, beginning in seventh grade and petering out in high school; the version online is only a book and a half of greatly revised and rewritten chapters, rather than the four and a half books I wrote by hand. It started from a wistful daydream and ran from there, introducing me to a ridiculously long cast-list and a very important period in Lavanian history, albeit AU due to human inclusion. It classes itself as young adult, simply because that’s what I was when I wrote and revised it.

My first pet was a mutt named Cricket. She was black, medium-sized, long-furred, and incredibly sweet. Mom was driving three-year-old me home from McDonald’s one day, down our windy bumpity gravel road, when we noticed a tottering blotch with legs following the car. I threw fries out the window for her and begged my mom to let me keep her. We drove out to the construction site where my dad was working, the puppy foaming from the car ride – of course, my dad’s reaction was to yell about rabies. However, my impish charm won out (as did my mom’s veterinary logic), and we kept her. Cricket was my best friend for fourteen years.

Day 24 is something that makes me cry.

I don’t see crying as a negative thing, nor as a sign of weakness. However, I don’t usually admit to my own tears to the public at large – tough guy image and whatnot.

But, truth is, there is one thing that often gets me misty-eyed, though rarely outright crying.


Not sad music. Just music.

The kind of music that reaches in and seizes your heart, squeezes the air from your lungs, twists in your gut like a wicker basket of serpents. Music that makes you feel, brow to toe, marrow to fingernails. Music that, in some way, tells a story so close to your own that you live in it, images and emotions swirling around you. Lyrics so poignant that you cannot deny them; melodies so intense that no amount of armor will keep them from cracking open your rib cage.

Music that, for as long as it plays, expresses your soul and its existence outloud.

Day 23 is something that makes me feel better.

Afternoon sunlight through the leaves, making dappled shadows. Sprawling somewhere soft and lazy, listening to the wind and breathing the warm air. Being surrounded by four cats and a dustmop of a dog, at least some of whom are purring like rusty lawnmowers. Music fingerpickin’ in my ear and folksy voices singing old tunes.

Brisk air in my face, the windows rolled down, the road thin and curvy through the mountains. High slope on one side and drop-off to the other, no other cars around, the engine drowned out by poundingly loud music that draws shadow and water out of the air. Capital-d-Driving, braking just right to get the bite coming out of the turn, exulting into each straightaway.

Perched in a high place, body molded to the rock, looking out over the world. The wind high and thin and chill, all human noises fallen away below the treeline. Sun-warmed stone and treacherously-shifting dirt, a misstep a sentence to fall halfway to the sea.

Brine in the air and gulls on the wing, sand hot enough to making walking hasty, coarse and unstable beneath bare toes. The sun brilliant and the wind strong, the water ear-ringingly cold. Surf and foam and water-darkened shoreline, the layers upon layers of ocean that reach inward and numb the feet. Sunsets that take forever.

Working up a sweat with a knife or a stick or just the body, testing flexibility and precision and pain tolerance with each technique. Demanding better from a fellow student, forcing him to hone the moves until flexibility doesn’t matter and the technique just works. Panting, arms shaking, legs weak, but not tired. Learning and practicing and actually improving in tangible, acknowledgeable ways. Finding security and joy in these abilities, this knowledge.

Hands restless on goatskin, pounding out rhythm that the brain doesn’t know but the body feels. Fingertips plucking at soft strings until nerves go numb and the notes come clean. The vibration of vocal cords, singing like pouring colored ink from a kettle, having no idea how it works but loving that it does. Feeling the music in the belly and in the head, meeting in the chest, and being consumed by everything the melodies summon and manifest.

And far, far more than just that, but if I tried for a comprehensive list, I’d never stop writing.

Day 22 is something that upsets me.

“Upsets” could be taken as “saddens” or “angers,” so I’ll choose something that evokes both emotions in me: judgment.

Let me first distinguish between an opinion and a judgment. Opinions are completely inevitable in being an intelligent creature. I’ll use a personal example: I don’t like rap music. That’s an opinion. “All rap music is terrible” is a judgment. Just because I subjectively don’t like something doesn’t mean it is objectively bad, undesirable, or unworthy. I can say that a movie was very good and add that I didn’t like it. This is not a contradiction; I can acknowledge objective quality while not personally finding value in it.

Associated with judgment is assumption. Another example: When I’m driving, 90% of the music that’s loud enough to be heard from other cars is rap. I am usually nonplussed by this, but I try not to think that those other drivers are also misogynistic and violent, as is often glorified by rap lyrics. I try not to assume that X and Y are always related – that leads to stereotypes, and I hate stereotypes with a passion. Not all rap music has gangsta lyrics; I’ve heard rap music that had very positive, rock-the-world lyrics. The real world doesn’t work in binaries.

To further compound my ARGH response to judgment, there is deliberate judgment. This is markedly different from observing another person to learn about and understand them, as people do when getting to know each other. That’s exploration, genuine curiosity, and honest interest– and usually mutual. Deliberate judgment has an air of superiority to it, divisiveness, looking at a person to condemn or begrudgingly accept. It’s a one-way street. Either you’re worthy or you’re nothing. Either what you can do is awesome or it’s not good enough.

That pisses me off. That terrifies me. That depresses me.

And that’s what I work so hard not to do to anyone, including myself.

Day 21 is another moment.

Unlike the last “moment” post, I’m actually going to use a recent moment.

Last night, I was sprawled on the floor in the living room, my bass guitar heavy on my ribs, plucking out growls from the low strings. I’d come up with a pretty good bass line for something-or-other, and now I was exploring to see if I could get another one. Maybe one that matched one of the songs I already had words for.

I found an easy rhythm and some notes that sounded good together. And then J grabbed the nearest djembe and started playing along with me. I nearly stopped, unaccustomed as I am to improvising with someone else, but we continued for a few minutes, and – man, J rocks the drums, but I am only just learning bass… but even together, we sounded pretty damn good. It worked.

And it was a little piece of magic, and glee, and hope for what we can accomplish together in the future.