Monday, July 01, 2013

Warrior Spirits



The image of him pushing hands with another guy after class brought to mind a bigger struggle, like he was fighting something in the spiritual dimension.  I saw my teacher looking at him.  I was thinking about this image and planning on writing about it already.

The Facebook posting came sooner than I was expecting, tonight, for my friend from elementary school.  I hadn't seen her since the 4th or 5th grade but remember her as one of my best friends during elementary school.  She and her twin sister were one grade above me and it was special to have these "big sisters" befriend me.  When she friended me on Facebook a couple years ago, I was too sick to reconnect with her.  When I got better, she became sick and I didn't want to bother her.  I cried for a week when I found out that she had ovarian cancer even though I hadn't seen her in 25 years.  Today I'm not really sad or crying.  Maybe I knew it was coming, maybe I was sicker back then, and maybe it was because I knew she was suffering back then.

I remember her as one of my spelling partners, running up to her during recess and yelling, "What level are you on in spelling?  What chapter are you on in math?"  She told me that she liked that I didn't say "hello", just yelled her name with a big smile and launched into these excited questions.

Previously, this guy, dark skinned, wearing a tank top and headphones, listening to music in the sun during class, saw me sitting on the grass and eating when I arrived to class.  He told me that I was like him and needed to gain weight.  I asked if he could eat anything and not gain weight and he said yes.  At the time, I was just laughing at having an inefficient metabolism.  Recently, Teacher told me during one of our carpools, that this young guy was a cancer survivor and recently on chemo.  Oh....  Then I remembered that image of him pushing hands, fighting with a warrior spirit, skinnier than he used to be but still muscular and virile.

Yes, the reason I am a bit skinnier than normal for me, sit on the grass and eat during class, and Teacher doesn't mind, is because of my health situation.  But it's not the same....  It's not all worse or better, but it's not the same.

There was a moment last year when I was in my other teacher's class and we were learning the most difficult move in our repertoire for one of the first times.  Her husband walked across, turned and stood to face me directly across the room, watching me for a minute.  At that time, I was so tired that perhaps only a Shaolin monk who has gone through that training could see the severity of my fatigue, when my muscles were shaking and I was still standing because of very good balance.  It was like he could also see that there was an actual image of a demon in front of me, between us, and I was fighting it with that warrior pose, bow stance, with one hand in front below the tip of my nose.  He in a black coat, tall, strong and straight posture, was like an embodiment of another spirit, there with me.

To be continued....

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Noodle Proposition

A few months ago during class, I noticed that Teacher was facing an older man instead of me this time while leading the meditation exercise.  I had heard that he was getting treated for prostate cancer or something.  So this confirmed for me that Teacher had not been facing me, at least not entirely..., for some "scandalous" reason such as looking at the cute and pretty girls but because of my health.

A couple weeks ago, he said that he would take me out for noodles after class if I went to the MV class.  Well, I went to the class for the demo practice but left before any noodle opportunity presented itself.  Hm, eating noodles alone with Teacher at like 10pm...?  He already gets home every night after teaching at around 10pm.

The next evening, I was standing by while he was referring to a story to M.  He said this is a good story for me to hear.  When he was on his TJ trips in China, after getting back to his sifu's house after class around 10pm, his sifu would ask if he was hungry.  He said no.  This happened several times and then he realized his sifu was hungry and wanted him to cook noodles for him.  I guess he wanted to eat and talk with his beloved disciple.

So I was thinking his noodle "proposition" was not as "scandalous" as it might have been.  I might be to him somewhat like he is to his sifu.  But the fact that I am female makes things different.

I did e-mail him to say that I didn't think it was appropriate for him to send me a link to a Chinese love song (that also happened to be that the two singers were an older married male teacher and younger female student).  He returned many explanations (excuses?) which are actually probably true but I think all the guys I have been friends with would refrain from sending me (only) a song about romantic love even if it just happened to be related in another way to something we were talking about or they just really like the song and singers.  Sometimes I don't know if I'm too much or not enough.



Apparently, thanks to Google Translate, the singers are very good friends and he sounds very happily married.  The next time I got a ride with Teacher, he had only instrumental music playing, hah.  But he ended up telling me about one of the first songs he heard from the singer, which he had said he better not tell me, but I was too curious.  I looked it up myself later on YouTube and it is a very romantic (in the Chinese cheesy pop sort of way) song, lyrics, and video.  I hope that's what his wife did for him. ;-)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Whizdumb

Teacher: "I think she's probably very smart in certain areas..."
Tiger: (smugly) "But not too much wisdom..."
Me: "Who...?" (In my head... I'm not too sure about the wisdom of someone who smugly says someone else lacks wisdom when I haven't seen wisdom in the speaker. I'll say this at the risk of doing the same thing in this very blog post.)
Tiger: "T... you know... she has all these crazy ideas."
Me: "Oh, I don't know, I don't see her that much."
...
Teacher: "I think she may be very creative."

The only conversation I had heard between T and Teacher was something like:
T: "I caught someone's energy. What do I do with it?"
Teacher: "...depends whose energy! Is it mine?"

Yeah, that's a crazy idea, if she were being literal!

Teacher: something something "...G..."
Tiger: "G is pretty smart."
Teacher: "I haven't seen it." (Funny, and I understand based on a "bizarre" story he told me involving her.)
Me: "Smart people can recognize smart people..."
Tiger: "Oh my God!... M!" in a tone of voice that sounded truly shocked.
Teacher: "Yeah, see, I'm not smart."

Me thinking, um, some of us are just making dumb jokes... although I do think it's true.... I thought she was offended because she thought that I was implying that Teacher is not smart. Later it occurred to me that maybe she was "smart" enough to recognize that my joke would end up being an insult to her if she thinks G is smart but I was joking more with Teacher at the time.

I started going down to the LA park after the SM park class to learn the spear. As I am too tired to participate in the whole class and drive back, I decided it was okay to get a ride with Teacher after certain incidents of getting to know him better. Tiger offered to drive me down the second time.

Tiger: "I don't tell people how long I've been doing TJ for anymore... because some people have told me they've done it for 20 years and..."
...
Me: "I don't know if it just takes practicing... it must take some intelligence too... I mean, I know some people who practice every day and..."
...
Me: "But even when people are really smart and learn really fast in the beginning, isn't it still not really possible to get the depth in the beginning?"

Tiger was saying something that Teacher had said earlier, that some people are "too smart" and pick it up really fast and sometimes get bored and leave or think they've learned it all after a few months.

Me: "But if people are really smart, wouldn't they stick around and know there's more to learn?"
Tiger: "That's a different kind of smart... that's wisdom. The smart, that's like competence..."

Okay, to me, that's too trivial to be called wisdom and if people think they've learned something that takes a lifetime to develop in a few months, I don't think those people are even "smart". Yeah, let me pick up a cello and imitate Yo-Yo Ma after a few months and then say I'm done.

Me: "I think your TJ is like your English. How do you get it so... perfect?" When I first heard her speak, I thought she was born here even though I had already seen her CV. This is what makes me say she is very smart.

A while ago, we had this conversation where she told me that CXW and Teacher have "small circles" while CB and she have "medium circles". I was thinking, are you really comparing your TJ level in the same sentence to CB, nephew of CXW, the "most famous" TJ GM of this style?

Two months ago, I saw the video of her competition performance and thought it was amazingly good. Now, a year after starting classes with Teacher, I am starting to see things that make me think that maybe her TJ is not "that" good. Maybe Teacher is too perceptive and knows it too because last week, while her demo group was "performing" for us, I was able to watch intently and started seeing more things that I didn't like, and then he stood next to me and commented on what people were not doing right, including her on the basic opening move of every form. A simple correction that isn't really a matter of "skill" but that is a first, to hear a critique on her TJ.

A few weeks ago, she asked me to be one of four for a performance. I wanted to decline because I don't even have enough energy to practice. She could be in it instead. She said she didn't want to be on stage. Teacher suggested adding K to make five. "No, the guy cannot be in the center. That's my thing." The group ended up opening to anyone who wanted to participate. I went to the first practice to see. She ended up putting herself in the performance, front and center, and at the end, shooting out through the center with flying leaps and landing in front. I dropped out because it was too much energy expenditure but also because it wasn't worth my time as most of the focus wasn't on the TJ but the formation and "dance" choreography and we kind of suck compared to the demo groups seen in last year's video who mainly just show good TJ and KF. Teacher has gotten really "relaxed" and has been letting her take half the class out of class for several weeks. I'd rather not miss class. They "performed" for us at the next class with a new formation, a triangle, with her front and center. Okay, it does help for her to lead the group but this is one of many instances of saying one thing while doing the complete opposite. I commented to J next to me that the two guys were placed in the back on either side. He said he noticed that too. I jokingly mentioned that to Teacher who said it was symmetrical. "It can be symmetrical in other ways...." I'm so mean....

At the end of class, I sat down next to Teacher as my bag happened to be next to him and we were talking and joking. Tiger was showing R a dao movement and accidentally smacked R's dao along the gym floor, so hard that I guess she bent the tip. "Sorry!" Teacher, sitting next to me, said, "So mean...." The jealousy seriously comes across the entire gym. The literally destructive nature of jealousy demonstrated by damaging almost $100 worth of dao and who knows how much in gym floor resurfacing in an instant.

Another time... "She told us this is the Valentine exercise because it's shaped like a heart."
Teacher: "She's very emotional," as she arrived. "You came just in time for the Valentine."

In my head, uh, half the class already thinks you're having an affair and the other half I just haven't heard from.

I don't consider jealousy to be an emotion. It involves feeling emotions but itself is not one. Emotions are: happy, sad, angry... jealousy is a thought process and behavior. As I was yapping with M a while ago, she is the most jealous person I have ever seen in my life, literally, not exaggerating, even after having been the best friend of someone who pretty much had some degree of borderline personality disorder, in which extreme jealousy plays a prime role. Anyway, I don't think soul-defining jealousy and wisdom really exist together.

According to Wikipedia, I think my understanding is not bad:

"Wisdom is the judicious study and application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions (the "passions") so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one's actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action."

But Teacher still loves her (in what way, it's still not entirely clear...) and gives her hugs that seem a little too friendly and her arm and shoulder touches seem territorial. I wonder if he would do that in front of his wife? What is the difference between a close friend and an emotional affair?

Tiger: something something "tango.... I went back a month ago.... You should come try it."
Teacher: (smiling but the body language seemed to say, um no.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Paying Dues

I've been taking a yijin class since November in the city of pearl milk tea (or I should say quality pearl milk tea), basically stretching tendons and muscles.  A TJ brother recommended it to me as he knew it helped someone with rheumatoid arthritis.  He told me this guy teaches out of his home during the day so it's mostly housewives and retired folks.

I do not know why but I did something I have never done before which is go into a strange man's house alone for the first introductory free private lesson.  I did do my Internet background search beforehand and scoped out the house.  It's a nice house in an upper middle class neighborhood with big windows viewable to the street.  One of the first things I noticed when he opened the door was that he was wearing a prominent cross around his neck.  The other impression was that he looked like a "lower class" Chinese person than I usually encounter in these settings but I did not feel at risk.  He has children including a fourteen year old daughter who has advanced math textbooks on the dining table and looks like your average high-achieving Asian kid.

Last week, he shared that he had been in prison for four years when he was "young" for getting in a fight and beating up another guy who eventually died of his injuries.  So this is the only person I know who has killed a person.  Of all the times, this is the one time for some reason I had gone alone to a strange man's house and it turns out he had killed a person violently.  He said he did not get convicted of murder, he was "not proud" of what he had done and has to live with it for the rest of his life, and he had paid his dues.

The news was strangely nonreactive for me and I just continued doing the exercises with the class while peacefully wondering if I would have to quit over this.  Suddenly the current TJ drama with my TJ teacher paled in comparison.  The teacher was the same person he was a minute ago.  Some of his students probably already knew but nobody seemed shocked.  Some go to the same church.  Others go to different churches.  The old Chinese ladies, people who could be my mom's friends, seem like they accept it and him, but I really doubt my mom would.  One lady commented that his demeanor and the way he speaks is so soft now.

He said he was "young", in his late twenties, I think.  Where I come from, I expect anyone older than five years old to understand the consequences of killing someone and anyone younger than five years old to be incapable of killing someone.  Someone in his late twenties has been an adult for a long time already.

He said he had "paid his dues".  When he got out of prison after four years, he really liked open space.  I thought, he lived a much better life during those four years than I have during the last seven.  I suffered a lot physically and mentally especially during the first several years, beyond the comprehension and imagination of anyone reading this blog and I haven't even written about the worst parts, and I don't think what I went through would be enough to "pay dues" for killing someone.  With the exception perhaps of guilt and prison abuse, being able to watch TV, read, take correspondence courses, and whatever one can do in prison sounds a hell of a lot nicer than how I spent the last seven years and I'm not paying dues for anything.

This coincidence makes it seem like the cosmos is presenting me with some sort of lesson.  What does it mean to forgive?  I'm not sure what, and I'm not sure what to think, but never go into a strange man's house alone is the simplest, and never meaning never.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Maneuvers

My week consists of 5-7 hours of TJ class between two teachers, 2 hours of yijin, 1 hour of orthopedic massage therapy, ~5 hours of driving, and going to the grocery store which is still like a field trip to me.  Basically, TJ is my life and I get a lot of my socializing and most of my people watching done there.  Thus the redundant TJ drama posts.  I shouldn't be blogging critically about people without their knowledge but oh well.  I generally reserve that for nutty or abusive behavior, the latter of which I think abdicates their right to privacy.  The former, okay, I am bad.

On Saturday after class, we were walking to the parking lot.  From left front to right back- Tiger, me, and Teacher (and E who wasn't really in the conversation).  Teacher was starting to ask if I wanted to go down to the next class in LA with them and hang out for lunch.  Tiger asked, "How about Sunday?" I don't remember exactly but obviously a day I would not be there.  Then she slowed down and positioned herself such that I had to move left or crash into her and so she was in the middle.  Then she turned around and walked back the other direction towards Teacher, like blockading him so they hung back and stopped.  "I wanted to talk to you about...."  Oooh, secret.  I couldn't hear the rest because I kept walking with E.

Sometimes when we're walking (from left to right- me, Tiger, and Teacher), Teacher sometimes moves around to the other side (Teacher, me, Tiger), which is okay, but to insert yourself in the middle of two people in the middle of determining plans is rude and weird.

Despite the jealous and possessive behaviors, Teacher seems to respect her the most.  I've only seen him tease her once and it was positive.  I've seen him looking at her admiringly.  They also seem to have a bond.  But I'm wondering about the married person having lunch alone with an opposite gender friend who displays jealous and possessive behavior.

Among the TJ people, M has lunch with A alone sometimes and there is clearly no issue.  I talk to her husband F for a while sometimes and there is clearly no issue.  I'd have to say that with most married or attached people I see interacting with opposite gender friends, there is clearly no issue.  But somehow with Teacher, it does seem like I have to tread carefully and not get pulled in like Tiger because I'm not sure he has no part in maintaining her jealousy and possessiveness despite that I think he's ultimately a committed person.

Then a replay of a similar conversation a few months ago.

"We can give you a ride."
"She has her car, doesn't she?"  (Um yes, but she knows my fatigue and driving that far don't mix well, and by the way, she carpools to our other class.)
"You can carpool down and Tiger can give you a ride back."
"I can give her a ride."
"Oh but you don't live down here."
...
"You can sit in my car...."
"I didn't bring any food."
"We can go get lunch after."
"Oh but I'm hungry now."
"Okay, next week?"
"Uh... I can't do next week."
"How about the week after?"
"Maybe."

Last Sunday after class, he went up to a group and asked, "Hey, are you guys going to yum cha?"  Then as I was walking to the parking lot with Tiger, Ir, and D, he called after us, "Are you guys going to yum cha?"  He seemed to want to hang out.  That was the first time I've heard him mentioned lunch.  I guess I'm moving into the friend zone.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Strange Teaching Habits

I led the SR exercises today in the park.  This meant I had to make sure I got up early enough to be on time.  Teacher arrived a minute after I started.  He usually arrives later as he has students lead the SR exercises.  So I guess he came on time for my leading.

This time was good.  I got a few corrections.  I wish I had gotten them earlier rather than after 7 months with this teacher plus one year with one of his student-teachers.  There's no reason to practice doing something wrong first, especially for so long, and it's much harder to undo bad habits than to do things correctly from the start.  That's why I take lessons from my other teacher who has this philosophy and thus it almost doesn't matter to me what style of TJ she teaches.

Teacher teased me periodically for missing little parts.  But how would I know them since he never teaches them and even Tiger doesn't lead the whole sequence since we don't have time to do it every class.  I am the only student in the SM classes who can do all the SR exercises and lead the sequence correctly.  Even the students who have been there for two years, like M and F, don't know it even though Teacher has had M lead often for a quite a while now.  M and I have both asked Teacher several times how are we supposed to learn it if he doesn't teach it.  It's a strange teaching style to have students lead every week, before they have learned it completely themselves, and some or actually many of the students are really bad.  Some are so bad that I can't tell which exercise they are doing, nor whether they are doing left or right, or forward or backwards.  I have no idea how beginner students are supposed to learn while following such a lead.

But this time was good because instead of just letting me skip the ones I didn't know, he taught them briefly next to me while I was leading.

Afterwards, he teased me a little but told the class that "actually, she did a very very good job."  Hah, this time I got two "very"s.  So much for him saying that the evaluators shouldn't just tell the person that she did a good job.  I guess he didn't "just" say I did a good job but did make corrections.

M talked to me for a few minutes about how I knew the entire sequence since Teacher doesn't teach it.  We've discussed Teacher's frustrating teaching style many times.  I turned my back so that he couldn't see what we were talking about but when I walked by him to get my sword, he had a funny smile and smirk on his face.  I smirked back.  He must have known what we were talking about.  He's too perceptive and intuitive.  One can't hide anything from him.

We have an easy connection somehow.  I almost don't know what to do with it.

I also went to a PH workshop with one of his student-teachers today at the JCC.  It was billed as an intermediate PH workshop but it turned out that of the four participants, two of them barely knew any TJ and two of them were old ladies.  I ended up pushing with C half the time and she's just not very good, plus old and obese, and like just not there in the physical world.  There was nothing to push and nothing pushing me.  She likes to talk and teach.  Teacher said she's just not ready.  That's a nice way of putting it.

That's something I noticed.  The worse some students are, the more they like to talk and teach.  During one class in the beginning, I couldn't confidently tell whether someone was good or not.  People who talk and teach give the impression of knowing what they are doing.  I watched this guy "teaching" M and kept glancing over where Teacher was teaching PH with someone else.  Later Teacher pushed with this guy and about every second, he would say with a sly smile, "That's not a good position... that's not a good position... that's not a good position... etc."  So I realized this guy sucked.  Which is the chicken and which is the egg, I don't know.  Do they suck because they spend all their attention talking and teaching, or vice versa?

M barely spent any time with me.  I think if one advertises an intermediate workshop, one shouldn't let pre-beginners attend, or otherwise let the real intermediate folks know so that they can bow out.  I want my money back.  Also, if one is doing a PH workshop, which is like pre-fighting, but one likes to give the old ladies the most attention, that should also be specified somehow.  There's nothing wrong with giving the old ladies attention or teaching them PH, but one should probably have a separate workshop for senior citizens or pre-beginners or people who should learn PH just as social and intellectual development, and a different workshop for people who can actually use it for self-defense or competition or ahem... can just do it decently, period.

I don't have the most objective position to talk about this, but after this, I appreciate Teacher's "unfair" attention distribution as more "fair".  His purpose makes sense and he does somewhat make it clear.  Yes, he spends the most time teaching PH to me but honestly, it makes the most sense.  He trains the people with the most potential harder.  His main thing, according to him, is to spread the art, which means he is also going to focus attention on those students who have the potential and interest in teaching.  He actually said he gets a lot of personal satisfaction from teaching beginners who are really bad and seeing them improve, but I see that he focuses attention on appropriate things for each person.

I did use the sauna at the JCC afterwards so at least got partial money's worth.  I also tried the steam room but couldn't breathe in there.  It's the first time I've used a sauna.  I'm considering joining for a month to use the sauna to see if it helps my CFS.  I Google everything and Pubmed every connection I can think of and did find some suggestion that sauna heat treatment can reduce CFS and fibromyalgia symptoms even long-term after the treatment stops, so it's definitely worth testing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Go On, Make Promises"

While talking with a bunch of us after class a few weeks ago, my TJ teacher said he doesn't make promises.  I wondered what kind of man doesn't make promises.  He didn't seem like that kind of man, or what did he mean?  He was telling a story about K in another class who would get mad if he didn't show up to class or was late.  The students over there still met during the breaks between sessions.  He usually gives extra free classes between sessions.  "Sometimes I'm late.  That's the way I am.  If I get there, I get there."

I puzzled over the promises a little over the next few days.  "Draft... it means I'm not committed yet."  "If you pay for the whole year, it's like you make that commitment...."  He's committed to his sifu and his lineage.  He's been teaching TJ for, I'm not sure, almost fifteen years, as about a half-time job on top of a full-time job.  He eats the same breakfast every day....

So I think I figured it out.  He doesn't make promises but he makes commitments.  What's the difference?  I thought it out.  Promises are just words.  Commitments are what you actually do.  Promises are words about the future.  Commitments are what you do now, and in the future, I guess.

If you make a commitment, a promise isn't necessary.  A promise might have been implied, or is it?  But a promise by itself is worthless.

I Google everything.  Some people think the same: Promises or Commitment - Is There a Difference?

He was talking about how K scheduled a private lesson before class but since he was late, she asked to "bum [him] for five minutes."  "I'm not going to teach private lesson during my public class... I just looked at her and walked away... She got an attitude... I don't like people telling me what to do."  Hm... I had just asked him if he could teach the sword form with more detail and kind of felt like I was stepping on a line by asking him to do something instead of just talking about teaching and learning styles.  "But every time, the next week when she sees me, she's just like, 'Hey T!'"

Out in the parking lot, he said, "I always pay attention when you ask questions, right?"  "Yeah."  He had consistently been paying extra special attention to me.  "If I ever brush you off, then you have to wonder, what did M do?"

In the ensuing conversation, I said a bit too much, although he seems to take it if the person is honest.  The following Saturday, he did teach the class with more detail, but at the end when he asked if anyone had questions and I started to ask, he turned around.  Tiger started laughing.  I looked at the teacher's back.  He might have paused for half a second but then started doing the section of the form that I had motioned about, but I didn't get to ask my question.  My expression was a mixture of slight exasperation, slight amusement, a little compassion, and disturbed.

The next Saturday, I again felt like I was being cut off when trying to ask a question.  The first time, I might wait to see if it happens again.  The second time, I get more disturbed.  I'm not like K but I'm also not very assertive.  This time I made myself learn to be more assertive.  I actually remembered reading an article, and thank Google, [research meeting boss yell mentor] brought it up as the first result, so I read it again.

Four Lessons from the Best Bosses I Ever Had

"My first boss at Bell Labs had a habit of yelling. While he was an equal-opportunity yeller, when he shouted at me in my first department meeting, I got up, told him when he wanted to talk, not yell, I'd be in my office and walked out. I was 20 years old, just out of undergrad, and sitting among a group of aghast Ph.D.'s . Perhaps this was not the best initial career move. But about 30 minutes later, he walked into my office and apologized. He never yelled at me again (though he did keep yelling at the rest of the team), and became one of three manager-mentors that shaped my career at Bell Labs and AT&T — and taught me to manage others and myself."

I waited until after the holidays to bring it up and did it over e-mail.  We do correspond a bit over e-mail.  Being assertive is not natural to me so I was not quite as smooth as the above career woman.  His first response was a bit teasing or making fun.  I replied briefly but firmly? a second time and then his response changed.  I already kind of knew from M telling me about her exchanges with him that he was kind of like that.  Sometimes the initial response is kind of reactive but then maybe he thinks about it for a day and gets it.

He didn't actually address the issue or apologize but we ended up talking about other stuff over e-mail.  However, I think he is not going to do it again.  He suggested I make a commitment to take the community college class and thought it was better to reenforce the material if I took both classes.  I had been saying that I didn't have enough energy to practice if I took two classes so was thinking about cutting one.  I think he likes to tease me during class and make me laugh.

I wondered if I would have expected an apology.  Then I remembered that I don't say sorry myself.  I just stop doing the thing that people tell me about, if I think they're right.  Most of the time I hear about people saying sorry, they just keep doing what they supposedly apologized for.  If you were really sorry, you wouldn't have done it in the first place, but the next best thing is to not do it again.  That is a real sorry, not just a meaningless utterance.

Exemplified by my former BP friend... "I'm sorry I hurt you" and purposefully abandoned you while you were seriously ill (so that she could attempt to inflict the borderline core wound of abandonment on me).  Uh... no you're not.  Meanwhile the e-mail was a veritable checklist of psychological manipulation techniques.

The next Saturday class, I was late as usual so was eating my breakfast loaf while watching the others do the SR exercises.  T came around to the picnic table and said he wanted me to lead the SR exercises next week.  He didn't tease me about eating my breakfast as usual.  Later he told the class that he was going to have me lead the SR exercises the next week.  "She did it one time... and didn't miss a single one."  I don't know how to describe his tone of voice, but Tiger was looking at him intently.

So I think it worked, my bumpy attempt at being assertive.

The blog post should probably end here but I already titled the post.

"Go on, make promises
you can't keep
you can't keep..."

I wish I could post a video of Vienna Teng and Paul Freeman performing this song they wrote together but since it's an unrecorded song, nobody is allowed to post video of the live performance on YouTube.   The sound is still so vivid in my mind.  If I recall, the lyrics were originally about something totally different, but in the final incarnation, the lyrics and subject just seem to match the music perfectly.  This was at her holiday concert two years ago at the Great American Music Hall and we had the most awesome seats at tables right in front of the stage, not too close to have to crane the neck but close enough that it felt like they were looking at and singing right to me.  That was the first time I had gone out socially for something "frivolous" instead of necessity in four years.  I had missed all of Vienna's concerts during those years while her music had developed greatly.

This year, the last week of December, I ended up going to Berkeley three times to hear her perform, including one unofficial impromptu concert for a small audience.  I drove twice, the farthest I've driven yet.  It might not have been such a great idea but I guess I decided it was safer than taking BART at night by myself.  A recent virally shared post on FaceBook written by a friend of a friend of a friend who got attacked in the Mission makes me think that no, I'm not paranoid.  She was able to escape, according to her, partly because she is very strong from being a rock climber.  More inspiration to go build some muscle....  Downtown Berkeley was deserted on a weeknight at 1am.  Even though I only parked one block away, I was glad to see a police car sitting right on the corner so I felt safe walking to my car.

Instead, here is a video of Vienna singing Amazing Grace during her "recording session".  Okay, some person, the videographer here, brought their dog with bells... seriously, we really didn't want to hear a dog jangling his bells in the middle of Vienna's heavenly pure voice singing Amazing Grace or any other song for that matter.  The video really doesn't capture her voice.  It was worth driving to Berkeley just to hear her sing Amazing Grace.