Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Mental Health

It’s all a veneer

where's my cuppa?
I’m not going anywhere.

From the outside, it looks as if there’s nothing wrong with my life. I have friends I love and who love me. I don’t have to worry about money on a daily basis, and I am writing every day–meeting the goals I’ve set for myself. I am devoted to my cat, Shadow, and he to me–he’s making biscuits on my legs (the comforter over it) as we speak. I have things I’m passionate about, and I get to set my own schedule. For some people, this life would be damn near idyllic. But, as with many things, it’s what’s not being said that matters more than what is stated. Even though I have friends I love and who love me, I feel lonely sometimes. In addition, I get too much in my own head and start telling myself things I know aren’t true.

It’s the ugly head of depression, and it’s rearing itself up more frequently and higher than before. If I had to guess why, I would say it’s because I’m sick. Physical and emotional health are linked, and the longer the physical bullshit continues, the worse my mental health gets. It’s partly because I feel it’s a weakness on my part that I’m sick for so long. Rationally, I know it’s not true, but that little voice in my head is like, “You’re weak. You’re terrible.” Or, conversely, “It’s all in your head.”

Which it most definitely is not.

Yesterday, I was so exhausted, I skipped taiji. My sleep is shitty in general as I’ve documented before, but it’s been really bad in the past few days. I’ve woken up feeling exhausted with the chills, and I would struggle through the day, going to bed feeling exhausted and having hot flashes. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Last night, I was feeling perkier, but then I started coughing so hard, my voice turned raspy. This is one of the stages of sickness I get when I do get sick–hacking cough. I still have it today, but I’m feeling MUCH better in general. More energy, and not as if I’m death warmed over. I’ll take that trade-off any day of the week.

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The more things change

all. the. tea.
Drinking all the tea.

It’s the same old, same old. Just as I was getting better, ROUUUUUUND THREEEEEEEEE. (Imagine buxom chick in a tiny bikini holding up a title card. Or Finchy (see clip. The boys’ character is always named Finchy). Whichever works for you.) It’s as if the fates that be are laughing at me every time I start getting better and saying, “You think you’re OK now? Oh, you poor, sweet, summer child.” I was roughly 85% better when I went to class on Saturday. I went home achy, but not unbearably so, and I was pleased that I was finally on the tail end of the bullshit.

I woke  with the chills. I immediately knew that I was worse because I don’t get cold if I’m not sick. Or rather, I don’t get cold until it’s well below zero. I threw on a sweatshirt and struggled through my morning routine. I skipped class and spent the whole day, miserable, on the couch. Then, early in the evening, I started having heat flashes–which happened the last time I got chills. Though, admittedly, it was cold/hot/cold/hot in rapid succession; this time, it’s chills in the morning and hot at night. At least from my limited data of one day and this morning. I have chills literally as I write this, and now because my words are so brilliant.

It’s depressing and discouraging. I know I need to see a doctor/acupuncturist, but I can’t bear the thought of being out of the house for more than a half hour. I’ve joked before that there are only two reasons I ever want to have a roommate/partner/cabana boy. One is to lift heavy things. Hey, yes, I can do it myself, but it’s nice not to have to do it all the time. The bigger one is to help me out when I’m sick. Shadow is currently snoozing on my legs, and he’s a great nurse (except when he meows at me, drags his nose across my bare flesh, and claws at me (gently) in the morning to wake me up for brekkie), but he’s not so good at making me tea or going out grocery shopping for the bare essentials.

Anyway. If this goes according to the timetable, the chills/heat flashes will last another day, and then I’ll slowly start getting better for reals. Or something. I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t really care. I’m watching Numb3rs as my comfort food right now and hoping I’ll feel better soon.

Making a bad situation worse

There is something intensely boring and self-involved in being sick. At least for me, that is. It’s hard to do much else when I’m not at my best or even at 50%, and it makes me cranky as fuck. I am not at my better self when I’m sick. Mostly, I want to withdraw into myself and hide from the world. Hm. Come to think of it, it’s not much different than regular me. I jest, I jest. (But only partly.) Since I am purportedly a goddamn adult, I manage to keep most of this shit to myself, but it’s harder to do when I’m sick. I’m funneling so much energy into being miserable, I have little left over for the constant controlling of my emotions that I do on a regular basis.

My taiji teacher suggested acupuncture, which I am fine with in theory. In reality, though, I have a complicated reaction. Not to acupuncture itself. I think it’s a good thing. But to the fact that I’m Taiwanese, and I know little-to-nothing about it. If I go to someone in Minnesota, they’re most likely going to be white. So, there’s a layer of shame and defiance in my attitude to begin with, which is not a good way to go into a new situation. But, as uncomfortable as that is, it’s better than going to someone who’s actually Chinese because I have even more feelings about that. It’s part of being in the diaspora–never feeling as if I belong to anywhere in particular. I know to many old school Chinese/Taiwanese people, I’m a disappointment/shame to my culture. In addition, I’m Taiwanese with a grudge against the Mainlanders*, which would not end well, either.

Regardless, I need to do something because every time I start to come down with something, it’s never-ending. It goes something like this. I start to feel off, which means my energy starts flagging. That lasts for a week or two. Then, sinus issues. Then, bowel issues. Then, coughing/sneezing/sore throat issues. Sinus issues may or may not persist. Throw in flu-like issues from time to time, lather, rinse, repeat. Last night, I was lying on the couch under a blanket and my cat (on my legs), and I got the chills. That’s another phase of being sick for me.

I’m tired of this. It seems to happen every year. My taiji teacher asked if it could be a prolonged sense of allergies, and that might be part of it since I’m allergic to everything. It’s worse when I get up in the morning and then for a few hours before I finally drop off to sleep. My ears are totally scabbed over with crud, and they hurt.

I’m in the same position, still have the chills, and I’m sipping my honey ginger lemon tea. Is it helping? Dunno, but it tastes good.

I really liked this song until I figured out what it was about (which was by the end of the song–it’s pretty obvious. At first, I thought it was about a lover, which would have been bad enough, but it’s God, which is even worse). Too bad because her voice is gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

*Brief primer: Chiang Kai-shek fled the Mainland to get away from Mao. He took over Taiwan and ruled it with an iron fist. Taiwanese people were considered second-class citizens under his regime, and he considered it part of China. My parents believe in an independent Taiwan and that we are Taiwanese, not Chinese.

In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.


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Everything’s easier on the internet

a tangled web we weave.
Socially networking like a bawss.

I’m a heavy internet user, but I’m trying to lessen my time on social media. Why? It’s having a negative effect on my mental health. I realized that if I hopped on Twitter first thing in the morning, it would negatively affect my mood for the rest of the day. I now take Wednesday and Saturday off, and it makes me feel better. I’m thinking of adding Monday, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’ve noticed something about the online world vs. the real world. It’s much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber because you can tailor everything to your preferences. It’s not a bad thing because why would I want to see tweets from right-wingers all day long? Apparently, Jack (from Twitter) doesn’t agree and is considering messing with the algorithm so that you see tweets outside of your bubble, which, no, Jack. Just no. Look, I get the reason for thinking this is a good idea. Like I said, it’s easy to just hang out with people you agree with and for your opinions to harden into rigidity. However, the solution to that is not to force heinous tweeters on hapless users. While the idea is a good one, it’s too much of a benevolent dictatorship for me. Ideally, the user would have a healthy mix of tweeters she followed, but let’s face it–most people aren’t that self-aware.

It’s also easy to craft theories in your head that work perfectly but don’t stand the sniff test when taken out into the real world. It’s the academic fallacy in which you can talk about a subject with your friends/colleagues for hours, come to an agreement with them, then think everyone in the world thinks that way. I see way too many philosophical arguments that don’t have anything to do with real life, and it’s especially difficult to burst that bubble because we all have a bias for believing what we think is reality. I tested this during the 2012 election by randomly asking people in the real world (people I knew, not just strangers) who weren’t on Twitter what they thought of some hot Twitter topic, and they never knew what I was talking about. All my friends follow politics more than the norm, and they still didn’t know about the Twitter outrage of the day.

I see this all the time, especially on certain progressive sites, including one of the advice sites I frequent. There are buzzwords that get thrown out willy-nilly, and it only works if everyone agrees on the meaning of said words (or phrases), which, sadly, is often the case. I had a discussion with Ian the other night about how heuristics are important, and I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s true that they are important, but it’s also true that when heuristics become FACTS, it can be a problem. For example, the term ’emotional labor’ gets thrown around a lot these days. It started as a way to describe situations in the workplace in which the worker has to suppress her own emotions in order to do what needs to be done at work. A good example is retail. Colloquially, it’s come to mean managing the emotions in a relationship (any relationship, but most often romantic), and it’s often relegated to the woman in a heteronormative relationship. By the way, that’s another word that is more useful in academic settings–heteronormative.

Anyway, now, people are throwing emotional labor out there to mean anything from having to deal with someone else’s feelings to having to set boundaries and a half dozen of other things that may be tangentially related, but not actually emotional labor. Another one is the word toxic to describe a situation. I’ve seen it used in situations which have negative aspects, say, the hubby doesn’t do the dishes every night, but isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself (he does the laundry, takes care of the children half the time, makes a decent living, remembers anniversaries, listens to his wife, etc.), and I think it dilutes the term when it’s used so loosely.
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The (mental) journey from fat to fit

oh, how i wish.
Like this, but not as hot.

I was talking with Ian yesterday about how anxiety works because we’ve both experienced it in our lives. Still do, but to a lesser degree. We were talking about how worrying about all this stupid shit that you can’t really do anything about is a way to not focus on things that are actually a problem in your life, but that you don’t want to deal with. I mentioned trying to eat better–

Side note: We both realized in Malta that we were fatter than we felt comfortable with. Air France has really short seat belts probably because the French hate everything and everyone (joke/not a joke. Will never return to Charles de Gaulle), and I could barely click it. Once we were cleared, I took it off and didn’t put it back on until we were landing. In Malta, I felt even worse because I couldn’t walk for ten minutes without getting tired. Yes, part of it was the heat, but it’s also that I’m not in great shape. Anyway, back to my narrative.

I said that I wanted to eat better, but I’m not doing anything about it. Ian quickly exclaimed that I had done a lot. I paused to really think about it because he was right. I cut out gluten and dairy a year and three months ago, and that was the start of an arduous journey. Giving up wheat and dairy was surprisingly easy especially as there are so many tasty alternatives these days, and I don’t miss anything. Well, except cheese. I miss cheese a lot. And dumplings. And pizza. It’s OK, though. *sigh*

I’m also adding back in fruits and veggies. I ate a ton when I was a kid because my mom made me. It won’t surprise you to find out that I rebelled as an adult by not eating any at all. I really was cutting off my nose to spite my own face because I like most fruits and several vegetables. I eat an orange a day, and veggies in the deli food I get from the co-op. I try to eat at least one other fruit a day to get my five in.

Next up, I have cut way back on my caffeine. I drank up to sixty ounces of it a day (yes, I know that’s not how caffeine is measured, but it’s how I view it), and now I’m at eight or less (most days). Meaning, I went from five-ish cups to one. I’ve mostly stopped drinking coffee, substituting tea in its place. Currently, I’m giving up chips and other nibbles which for some reason I started eating again after I gave it up the last time. I find that it’s means I’m less anxious and jittery, which is a net positive. I don’t even miss my Diet Coke. I had a few while I was in Malta and when I’m eating out, and to be honest, it tastes weird to me now. So, yes. I’ve made big changes. I eat better overall now than I did a year-and-a-half ago. And yet, I still have so far to go.

Let me be clear. I hate the way I look. When I glance in the mirror and see all the roundness, I flinch. I look monstrous and grotesque to my eyes, especially my face and my belly. I’m not the biggest I’ve ever been, but it certainly feels that way. I had thought when I cut out dairy and gluten, I would naturally lose some weight. I didn’t. I think it’s because of the aforementioned delicious substitutes that are readily available these days that I didn’t really feel the pinch. And (and now we’re getting to the meat of the post) it’s because I don’t cook.

*sigh*

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Frailty, thy name is humidity

gorgeous humidity.
Beautiful, but deadly.

I am back from my week of fun in the sun, emphasis on sun. I went to Malta, Gozo more specifically, with my family and Ian, and it was an experience unlike any other. First of all, I have to get the elephant in the room out of the way.

The heat. More to the point, the heat and the humidity. It’s the summer in Gozo, and it’s the worst of the worst. More than one Gozitan commented that we had come to the island at the wrong time while looking as cool as a cucumber as I sweated a river down my body. My mom’s sandplay association had a conference and why they chose Malta during sweat o’clock time, I’ll never know.

Here’s the absolute worst part–we were staying at a Jesuit retreat center. That’s not the bad part–they were wonderful people. Very kindhearted and generous, which I’ll get to in a minute. The retreat center had no air conditioning. I repeat, the retreat center had no air. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I HATE the heat. Hate it with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. Anything over sixty makes me cranky, and when it hits eighty, I’m a right bitch. In Gozo, the average temperature while we were there was high eighties with an 80% humidity. There were two large fans in the bedrooms, but all it did was move the hot air around. Ian and I kept the windows open (one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom), but it didn’t help much, either.

I couldn’t sleep in the heat. It was oppressive. I know that phrase is overused, but it was true. I never knew how much I took for granted that nighttime would bring about a cool and much-needed breeze. I love my air and pay fealty to it, but I reasoned I could live without it. I have. My air was broken at the beginning of this summer, right when we had a few days of 100 degrees. It was actually broken since last year, but the AC company told me to wait to fix it until April of this year so the warranty would last longer. Well, not longer, but you know what I mean. In April, we had a 1 1/2 – 2 feet snowstorm, so the last thing I was thinking about was my air conditioner.

Anyway, I suffered through it wearing as little as possible and blasting a big box fan right in my face. I moved as little as possible, and it was relief once the heat broke. My air was fixed a few weeks later, and I haven’t looked back yet. Naively, I thought if I could deal with that, then I could deal with Malta.

I could not have been more wrong.

The heat hit like a Mack truck the second I stepped on that island. It surrounded me like a shroud and grew incrementally tighter every second I was there. From the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, it wrapped around me like a blanket and wouldn’t let go. Breakfast was at 8 a.m., lunch was at 12:30 p.m., and dinner was at 7:30 p.m. We got there last Tuesday, I want to say afternoon? It’s hard to remember because time was so convoluted in Malta. Anyway, my heart sank when I realized there was no A/C, but I naively thought I’d be able to deal with it on some level.

That’s a lie. I knew I would have trouble with the heat. I’m a wimp when it comes to heat–there’s no getting around it. I can’t even deal with Minnesota heat which is bush league in comparison to what I experienced in Gozo. I’d lay down in the heat around midnight, drenched in sweat, feeling miserable as I waited for sleep to find me. I had one fan blowing directly on my face, but it didn’t help. I was miserable and pissed off, but trying not to wallow in it–or my stench.

Sleep was not my friend during those nights. I’d sleep for maybe an hour or two, and then I’d wake up hot and sweaty. To make matters work, I didn’t fully understand how the toilet worked, and I have a thing about public toilets anyway, so by the fourth or fifth night, I was pretty much avoiding the bathroom in the bedroom and using the one in the center itself. Ian and I got into a fight over the toilet in our bathroom, and it’s in a large part because both of us were sleep-deprived and majorly cranky. I felt like everything was working my last nerve, and I had to actively hold back from snapping.

Ian and I would go out to smoke at three or four in the morning, and it would be minimally cooler. It was actually cooler outside the rooms than in, but, again, it was a matter of degrees. As in less than five. We’d stay outside as long as possible, and then return to the stifling room. We’d both try to sleep, but it was nearly impossible. My sleep is shit in general, but in Malta, it got even worse. It hit Ian even harder than me, and I don’t think either of us got more than three hours of sleep at a time.

We’d wake up around six or so and then swan around miserably until breakfast. I have to give the retreat center props for having gluten-free cereal and bread (from my favorite maker, Schar) and vegetable milk, even though I don’t know what exactly it’s made of. Breakfast was  gluten-free flakes and vegetable milk, a banana, gluten-free bread with three slices of ham. Coffee or tea, orange juice, and water. Another smoke, and then life on the bay.

This is one of the ways the men at the retreat center were so wonderful. The director drove my father, Ian, and me to Xlendi Bay the morning after we arrived and picked us up a few hours later. He did that the next day as well. On the third day of the conference, he was busy, but he had one of the fathers drive us instead. Xlendi Bay became our second home, and, yes, it’s a tourist haven, but it’s gorgeous, and the water was crystal clear and cool. I loved wading in it, feeling the buoyancy keeping me bobbing. I had to be careful because of the rocks, but it was such a breath of fresh air–pun intended. Plus, there was a breeze that kept the air from being stifling.

What I loved most about the bay was seeing a plethora of people from all around the world–or more accurately, from all around Europe. There were people of all shapes and sizes, and none of them were self-conscious about their bodies. I saw older and large women who were rocking bikinis and bathing suits with confidence, not giving a damn about the cellulite on their thighs or upper arms. They didn’t give a thought about how their bodies appeared to others–which was so mind-blowing to see. I’m so used to American women (me included) being obsessed with what is wrong with our bodies, and even if it was an illusion, I loved seeing women who just didn’t give a damn.

Related note: Right before going to Malta, I went shopping to look for a bathing suit at Target. I had little hope of finding one because bathing suits are not made for women like me. But, I tried on a two-piece that was made by a company specifically for plus-sized women, and to my surprise, it did not make me want to cry when I saw it on myself.

In Gozo, I saw a women similar to my size wearing a swimsuit that was similar to mine except it was bright blue and flowery while mine was black–natch. The top had a camisole-like base with flowing drapes over it. There was cleavage shown, but still had support. The bottom had boy shorts with drapes over it as well. I didn’t feel uncomfortable in it, but mostly because of how comfortable everyone else was around me. On a related note, there were so many beautiful people–but not in the conventional way. They all looked like they lived hard and joyfully, and I had to stop myself from staring more than once. It’s why I like European flicks–the actors look real. Haggardly beautiful, but real.

After a refreshing morning at Xlendi Bay, it was lunch time. It was usually some kind of pasta followed by meat, potatoes, and veggies. Then, dessert or fruit. I tried to stay strong, but I broke. I had to eat the pasta because I was famished. Another thing I didn’t realize is how used to eating whenever I want I’d gotten. I don’t like to eat three times a day–I prefer to graze. In Malta, I felt I had to stuff myself when I had the chance because I wouldn’t eat again for a long stretch of time. On the other hand, I was so hot, I rarely felt like eating. It was a weird situation.

Dinner was vegetable soup, then meat, potatoes and veggies, and then wine. The first day of food was great. By the last night, I think everyone was a bit sick of the same thing. Oh, there was bread for every meal as well, but I couldn’t eat any of that. The pasta I had was good, but it wreaked havoc on my system. I stopped eating it after three days with just a pang of regret.

The last day we were in Gozo, Ian and I begged off the planned tour despite persistent urging from my mother (because I fucking hate tours. I hate crowds of people. I hate people telling me what to do or where to go. And, to be honest, I wanted the time away from my family. After breakfast, Ian and I walked into the town center with the explicit plan to visit the shopping mall and the citadel. There would be air conditioning in the shopping mall, we reasoned. Oh, how wrong we were. It wasn’t really a shopping mall, but merely a collection of shops for tourist with an occasional blast of air, but not A/C per se. I was dying at this point, but it was our last day in Gozo, and I didn’t want to waste it.

Walking to the citadel was painful; I’m not going to lie. I was gasping, though I tried to keep it quiet, and my extremities were tingling. My right thigh was numbing in pain–and this thigh has been a problem for the past six months or so. My dad has a lot of pain in his thighs in a similar way to what I’ve been experiencing, and it’s turned out to be serious. I’m not a doctor, but my interpretation is compressed vertebrae. There’s talk of an operation. The citadel was very interesting, but I was seriously hurting by the time we got there. I overheard a mother asking her daughter in concern if the daughter was OK, and the daughter nodded, but her face was dangerously flushed. I hope she’s OK, but it heartened me to know I wasn’t the only one who was having such difficulties with the climate.

I had a fish stew that was fucking amazing. But, no air until the cab we hailed to go back to the retreat center. I know we overpaid, but I didn’t care by that point. I would have paid five times the amount for five minutes of cold. It showed me how weak my flesh was and how willing I was to do anything to get out of that remorseless heat. I said to Ian that it started to feel malevolent, as if the heat was personally targeting me. Yes, I know it’s not true, but it really felt malicious by the third night I couldn’t fucking sleep. We slept with the door open during the day which helped, but it felt weird to do that at night. I don’t know why, but sleeping with the door closed was nearly impossible.

I have much more to say, but this is getting long. I’ll wrap it up here and pick it up at a later time.

Real life getting in the way of my blogging

We’re coming down to crunch time with my parents’ visit being roughly twenty-seven hours away and me being in a panic because I am not ready. Cleaning-wise because I always leave it to the last moment, but I’m mostly at peace with that because it’ll never be clean enough*. I mean it more mentally and emotionally. I’ve had a better relationship with my parents in the past few years since, well, ever. I’ve been able to roll with much of the bullshit, and arguments went from daily to maybe once every other week.

I was on the phone with my mom the other night, and she was talking about my father as she normally does. 90+% of our conversations revolve around him (partly my fault because I get pulled into it), and she mentioned something that instantly triggered my, “That’s fucked up” response that is specifically tuned to my family bullshit. Now, I knew mentioning it wouldn’t make things better. I knew, in fact, that it probably would make things worse. I *knew* it. My brain was like:

I even said internally, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Don’t say it.” Then it was as if the pod people had taken over my brain and I heard myself saying, as if from outside of me, “You know, that’s wrong.” I didn’t say it in exactly those words, but I was crossing that family boundary of saying the truth when a lie would do just as well. Even as I was saying it, I was yelling inside my brain to shut up, but something inside me compelled me to say my bit.

I was right. It didn’t make one whit of difference except to make things worse as I knew it would. I tweeted afterwards:

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With a sword in my hand

We started up with the sword again in taiji a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t be happier. As longtime readers know, I love the Sword Form. It’s funny because on Saturday, my teacher was telling one of my classmates that she (my teacher) might start her (my classmate) on the sword soon. My classmate was hesitant about whether or not she wanted to do it, and I had to internally smile because I resisted with all my might when my teacher first suggested it to me. She had the same reaction when her teacher told her it was time for the Sword Form, except in her case it was because she wanted to focus on open hand forms. In my case, while I was into the martial arts side of taiji way more than the health side, the thought of weapons slightly repelled me.

Thankfully, my teacher pushed the issue by pressing a sword into my hand. The minute my fingers closed over the hilt, I was hooked. This was what I was meant to be doing. I’ve learned two-thirds of the Sabre Form, and while I like it, it’s not the same. The Sword Form sings to me in a way I can’t explain. The sword is an extension of my hand, and I feel both powerful and graceful when I’m doing the Sword Form.

I’ve written this before, but I taught myself the left side of the Sword Form in fairly short order. To put it in perspective, I still haven’t learned the whole left side of the Solo Form. I was near the end of the third (and last) section when my teacher’s teacher went nuts changing things, and I decided it was better to wait until the new Solo Form was settled before trying to teach myself the left side. Quick reminder: my teacher’s teacher’s view is that he teaches the right side, and you teach the left side as a way to see if you really understand what you’re doing. It’s a solid idea because it’s easy to fudge the movements you don’t know or do something unthinkingly. When you have to teach yourself the left side, it brings up all your shortcomings.

I have spatial issues, so teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form was–and is–hell. My brain screeched to a halt when I tried to teach to show it how to do the left side. I would do the right side, then try to copy it on the left, and my brain would grind to a halt. I literally could not make myself do the left side. It was frustrating as hell, so when I decided to teach myself the left side of the Sword Form, I approached it with much trepidation.


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