Underneath my yellow skin

My Sword is My Life

so tempting, and yet, so wrong.
My new nemeses.

Health update first: I’m around ninety percent, but I’m having bouts of being besties with my toilet. It starts with stomach cramps, and it ends with me rushing to the bathroom as fast as I can. I sit on the toilet for up to half an hour, and it’s not fun at all. I had hope that by cutting gluten and dairy out of my diet that I’d not have to deal with this any longer, but it’s still happening, albeit much more infrequently. I bought some vegan Fettuccine Alfredo sauce from the hot bar at the co-op yesterday, and I was hesitant because it had noodles in it. However, the description card for it only noted it contained soy (I really appreciate they point out the major allergens in the food they provide), but I could SEE noodles. I didn’t see rice as an ingredient (a common substitute for wheat in noodles), and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask. I’m pretty sure they would have put wheat on the card if there was wheat in it, but it also said the item was just the sauce.

The other thing I’ve changed is that I’ve added more fruit back into my diet. This time, plums. I ate a plum after eating the vegan Fettuccine Alfredo, and I think it’s the plum rather than the Alfredo that caused the problems. I’m going to test it today by eating them at different times, and hopefully, that will pinpoint the problem. I’ve also had an issue with grapes and possibly cherries, so I’ve self-diagnosed the problem as either an intolerance/sensitivity to fructose or IBS. I don’t think it’s the former because there are fruits I can eat without problem. Oranges, apples, blackberries, and strawberries, for example. Watermelon, too. Also. I did have a bad reaction to a banana once, but only once, so maybe it was something else. It might also be that I’m not used to the amount of fiber I’m now ingesting. That’s another

I know I should see my doctor, but since I got sick after the last two times I went to my doctor, so now I have an irrational fear it’ll happen again. I know correlation is not causation, but it’s still in the back of my mind. I’ve been sick for nearly six months, and I don’t want to deal with another bout. For now, I’m just going to keep testing myself and hopefully come to the correct conclusions.

By the way, I’m not missing gluten at all. It’s so different than when I tried this twenty years ago. Options were so limited back then, especially for someone who doesn’t cook. Now, I can buy gluten-free cereal at my local Cubs. That’s progress, my friends. I’m having a torrid affair with jasmine rice, and I can’t believe I’ve ever strayed from it. I love the smell of cooking rice; it really is homey to me. (Homey because I’m Asian. We do the rice thing on a regular basis.) It signifies everything good to me, and the first bite is always heavenly. I’ve also found a gluten-free bread that is tastier than regular bread. I’ve tried several different kinds made of seeds or millet or chia, but this is by far the best. It’s a brand called Schär, and it’s their Artisan Baker Multigrain Bread. It’s a snooty name for it, but it’s fucking delicious. Ironically, I found it at Cubs rather than the co-op, and it makes me want to try their cookies as well. It’s hearty and chewy and everything a good bread should be. Also, the best gluten-free blueberry waffles are made by Wild Harvest, and I found them at Cubs as well. Yes, I know it’s Cub Foods, but I’ve grown up calling it Cubs. Don’t @ me!

Dairy, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. I don’t like most milk substitutes, and that includes soy milk and almond milk. I really hate coconut milk (not a big fan of coconut), so that’s out as well. Cashew milk ice cream is tasty, but I can’t seem to find cashew milk on its own. I found one substitute that is OK in cereal–it’s either hemp or flax. I think it’s flax milk, but I’m not sure. I don’t drink milk on a regular basis, so I’m not too upset about it, but it would be nice to find a substitute. I can’t find a suitable yogurt, which makes me sadder. I hate soy yogurt. It’s fucking gross. I tried goat milk yogurt, and I didn’t like that, either. As previously stated, I don’t like coconut milk, so I haven’t tried yogurt made with it.

The one thing I do miss, though, is cheese. Oh my god. I love cheese so much. It’s quite possibly my favorite food after chocolate, and I feel about it as does Tim Minchin.

I love cheese, but it’s plain to see, that cheese doesn’t love me.

I am such a fool in love; I just cannot get enough, but it’s an unrequited love.

I can feel it in my guts!

I’ve found a decent shredded pepper jack for melting (Daiya, in case you’re interested), but I can’t find a cheese-substitute that I’d just munch on as a snack. I’ve tried a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza by Daiya as well, and it was…just OK. It wouldn’t cook properly, so I finally just microwaved it. It was fine, but not great. I got it on sale, and I wouldn’t buy it at full price. I also just tried Annie’s Homegrown gluten-free, dairy-free mac ‘n cheese, and it was weird. The consistency was correct–thick and gooey. the taste, though. It started off mellow, but had an almost acrid aftertaste. That’s not what you want in your mac and cheese.

The cashew-based Alfredo sauce I mentioned earlier is pretty tasty, but the noodles were mushy as hell. That’s another reason I think they’re not wheat because wheat noodles just don’t get that mushy. I really think if I want a good fake-cheese dish, I’m going to have to make it myself. Sadly, I don’t think there will ever be a decent substitute for cheese that you can just eat on its own.

Now, let’s talk taiji. I’ve been slowly increasing my daily practice back to where it used to be. I’d say I’m at roughly eighty percent, and I’m impatient to get back to where I used to be. I don’t want to push it, though, because I don’t want a relapse. One thing I’ve noticed is that even if I don’t like a change my teacher’s teacher has made to a form, I will practice it until I learn it. That’s what I’m doing with the change to the first two kicks in the kick section. I’m practicing them until it becomes second nature, even though I don’t like the change. I may be a contrarian, but I accept he knows more about taiji (WAY more) than I do.

I’m also doing the weight set again, even though my teacher says it’s not necessary. Master Choi used to do the weight set with fifty pounds weight on a regular basis, but he’s cut back to using twenty pounds and saying that’s all you need. He used to believe that martial arts and health were two separate things, but now he’s realizing an integration of the two is best. His new saying is, “You don’t need strength for power.” I don’t use more than twenty pound weights, anyway (twelve, fifteen, and twenty pounds for different exercises), and I like having muscles.

I’m thinking of giving it up because I’m doing more sword exercises, and that’s a weight-bearing form of exercise as well. It’s more intrinsic to what I’m practicing than simply lifting weights, and I fucking love it. My teacher showed me the next sword energy in class yesterday, and I was fucking up all up in it. I had a million questions, and I couldn’t wait to practice it. There was one part I didn’t get at all, but instead of being frustrated as I normally would, I just struggled through it. I commented on how doing the sword bypasses the perfectionist in my brain. My teacher replied by saying it’s because it’s not a chore like the Solo Form is (for me), so I don’t have that ‘I have to do this’ feeling when I do it.

She’s so right. When we do the Solo Form or Pushing Hands, I’m like a kid doing her homework. I’ll do it, and because I’m me, I’ll do it to the best of my abilities, BUT I WON’T LIKE IT. The sword is more like doing a creative project that I want to do–any mistake is a way to find out something new. When we do the sword in class, I’m the first to whip mine out. I’ve learned the left side of the Sword Form before learning the whole left side of the Solo Form. I still haven’t finished the third section yet, though I’m going to get to it soon.

In class yesterday, my teacher showed me a way to practice the fourth energy (coiling) with two people. I’m using my wooden sword to practice instead of my metal one, which means we can ‘spar’. When she showed me the way to practice it with two people, I was so fucking stoked. I fucked it up and didn’t do it right, I’m sure, but my fucking god, it was amazing. I was almost euphoric as we practiced. I have to commend her for not even flinching as I nearly hit her in the face with my sword. She’s probably used to it, but I was mortified. It’s only a wooden sword, but still. I didn’t mind, though, when I accidentally clanked my sword on hers and it glanced off my legs. I will suffer for my art!

I don’t care if I get bruises when I practice the sword. I don’t care if my arms hurt. I don’t care if I look stupid. I don’t care about anything when I’m doing the sword. I just want to stab with the pointy stick in my hand, and that makes me so very happy. Next time I need a happy place, this is what I’m going to picture. Me with my sword in my hand, stabbing to the throat, then the knees, then the throat (the two-person coiling drill).

I thought I loved the sword before, but it’s nothing like what I feel for it now that my teacher is teaching me the sword energies. I’m like, “Hey, boo. Where have you been all my life?” I didn’t even know how much I needed it until now, and I wish I had learned it years ago. I wasn’t ready then, but I am now.

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