(no subject)

Not much new to say. Um, we have three bunnies now. Chewie (Holland Lop), Zoey (uh, mutt?), and Turbo (dutch/dwarf mix who lives up to his name).

I did the half marathon with tremendous success in May. In June John and I broke up, and got back together. I'm now taking three martial arts. I spend my free time outside of work, friends, and exercise just playing on my 360.

Lately I've impressed an awful lot of people at work. Moreso than usual.

Ok, off to bed now!

Good Lord

It has been a LONG time since I updated. Hmm. And I have approximately 15 minutes to do so before I have class to teach, so here goes:

1. I have officially passed Sho-Kyu in both hanbo and rokushaku bo.

2. I have officially passed 9th Kyu in bikkenjutsu.

3. I have officially passed 6th Kyu in Jujutsu, and am starting to learn 9th Kyu Goshinjutsu as well as 9th Kyu Gyokko Ryu Kosshi-jutsu.

4. I have been taking weapons classes for over a year, and martial arts for a year and a half, which is how #s 1-3 occurred.

5. I am doing splendidly at work. I have managed to sublimate the urge to strangle most people, but only because of #4 on this list. I find it ironic that the more deadly I become, the gentler and more compassionate a person I try to become.

6. I am now FIVE WEEKS out from my half-marathon in May, and am trying not to hyperventilate about it. The other day I ran eight miles, and they went just fine.

7. I've been dating John for four years now.

8. I've kept 120 pounds off for a year and four months now.

9. We just started a new roleplaying campaign that is seriously going to be the most freaking awesome group ever, or collapse within three sessions, and here's why: I'm playing Ash from Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness. "Shop smart. Shop S-Mart!" Keith is playing Sgt. Nicholas Angel from Hot Fuzz, POST-"By the power of Grayskull!" and John is playing Deadpool. Yes, THAT Deadpool. May Lord have mercy on all NPCs we encounter.

(no subject)

This past week at least five people have exclaimed to me that Gary Gygax is dead, and asked me if I'm ok because of it.

Yes. I'm dealing. I think the flu I've had this past week was somehow spawned out of grief. At least, that's the current story.

Tomorrow's roleplaying session will be held in honor of him, of course.

In other news, I test for bokken (sword) and rokushakubo (six-foot staff) in a week. Oh...my...God.

(no subject)

I can't believe that it's been a week since I arrived in Vegas. Unreal.

Well, the trip was interesting, annoying, and way too short even though I wanted it to be over.

I've decided that I don't care for Vegas much, even though I had some really fun times while out there.

I got in a LOT of walking, but only one run, which means that I've been doing a LOT of running the past few days to make up for it. I can feel it in my knees, which isn't usual for me. It doesn't help that I had Jujutsu yesterday before running.

One more run tonight, and then I'm taking tomorrow off from all exercise, and then doing my long run on Saturday before Jujutsu.

I think I'm overtraining, because my sleep has been really restless. Need to try and make up for that tonight.

Wait...I get to go on a vacation??

Whoa! My first real vacation in almost three years. I'm still in shock. It really crept up on me, but just now it hit me that all 800+ people at my company can just DEAL WITHOUT ME FOR A FEW DAYS. Mwahahahaha.

And good timing, too. My boss has told me that I am not, under any circumstances, to take on even one more project or be a project lead for one more thing right now, as I'm already overburdened, overworked, and cruising right through lunch breaks without pause and working from home. Alas, one could argue that I'm making more money, but no, it doesn't work that way in ye old Salary Land.

It's gotten so bad that I've been having increasingly frequent anxiety attacks, for which I now have a prescription for Xanax, because otherwise I start panicking in seemingly innocuous situations, like a car ride where someone else is driving.

I'm not even bringing a laptop with me on vacation. It's going to drive me apeshit, I'm sure, but I'm not letting myself check work email. My voice mail is already set.

In other news, Sensei has warned us that our Weapons class testing is looming. It's going to focus on bokken.

I can name 20+ different parts of the katana in Japanese. I can name all of the stances and cuts for this level as well as reasonably perform them. Ironically, though, I prefer the rokushakubo. Sensei thinks it's amusing to see me handle one, because I'm the shortest person in class at 5'2", and the only female. But dude, I can seriously handle a six-foot staff. I have down all the stances, but some of the Japanese still occasionally escapes me.

I believe I have all the Japanese down for the hanbo, though, even though we won't be tested on that for a while yet.

I guess it's time to get my hakama drycleaned and make sure the pleats are still intact.

I wish I could bring my bokken with me on my trip, but that would just be too awkward to explain.

TSA Agent: "Why do you have a wooden sword?"

Me: "Toothpick...?"

(no subject)

Wait...I still post to this?

At work, so I have to type quickly. Hmm. Will sum up:

1) Made goal weight. I lost in excess of 120 pounds.
2) Have lost track of how many races I've run. And I'm getting faster all the time.
3) Am still in love with John, and wondering how I got so lucky to find someone not only handsome and funny and intelligent, but also the biggest Star Wars geek I know and the best DM I've ever had. Funny enough, he says I'm the best DM HE'S ever had. I can't believe we've been together for almost three and a half years now.
4) Can't freaking get away from work. As arrogant as this sounds, I think some people around here are going to have heart failure when I take my first real vacation in a couple of weeks and won't be available to them.

Ok, time for martial arts now. I do believe I hear testing for 7th Kyu calling my name.

(no subject)

I tried on my faithful, trusty Ren Faire bodice yesterday after not wearing it since last summer. Now, this bodice can be adjusted to fit me within a 50 pound range.

Unfortunately (what the heck am I saying?!), I'm 20 pounds below the LOWEST part of that weight range. So this bodice, which I've had for eight years now and wear every season, is laughingly too big on me.

As in, the panels are overlapping and I still have about four inches between my tummy and the bodice. I could take it off without unlacing it.

So it's either take it apart at the side seams, or buy a new one. It's crazy to think that I'm the smallest I've ever been in my adult life. And it's crazy to think that in another 20 pounds I'll be at my goal weight. A weight that a lot of people would be THRILLED to be. Heck, right NOW I'm at a weight that a lot of people would be thrilled to be.

(no subject)

The flu really sucks. Getting the flu pretty much every single year right around this time ALSO sucks.

It completely shut down any ideas I had of going to either Weapons class or Jujutsu over the weekend, but yesterday I was feeling better, and managed to go for a hike at the Wehr Nature Center. Now, it being Earth Day yesterday, there were a lot of people there, but most of them took the wide, well-marked, short trails.

Keith and I, of course, went completely off the "beaten path" as it were, and a couple of times had to cross a stream, climb down a steep hill, brush away brambles, etc. At two different points we came across owl pellets. Actually, I'm not sure the first one was an actual owl pellet, but the second one definitely was. Fur, some small bones, etc.

If I had had something on me to carry it in, I would have taken it with me, but if I had to guess, I would say the owl had recently eaten a squirrel. But that's just judging by the fur and size and shape of the bones.

So all in all, yesterday was an enjoyable day. I still have a sore throat today, but I'm on the mend. I'm hoping that by Friday I'm feeling well enough to donate blood, since it's about that time again.

Lots of martial arts-related events in my life lately

No one need respond to this post. It's mostly to capture my own thoughts, feelings, and memories as of late with regards to the martial arts of which I am a part.

About eight years ago I started taking Jujutsu. I got to 7th or 8th Kyu and then had to stop for what was to be a short period of time, but which turned into an eight-year hiatus due to an overabundance of pride on my part.

Without going into details, let's just say that it was a stupid reason for not returning, and as Sensei reminds me often now, I would be a 2nd degree black belt now if I had kept on with it. But I guess that isn't the point. The point is that I missed it a great deal, and after finally locating and firmly attaching my balls again, I decided to go back.

I opted to start all over again, as a "white belt." Sensei told me, after I tested the second time for 9th Kyu, that I was the only person to have done that. I could have just gone straight back to green belt, as that was the belt rank I had previously attained. But I wanted a firm reminder to remain humble at all times, and so declined the opportunity and decided to start all over again.

Long story short, going back to Futen Dojo and my beloved Jujutsu was the best thing I've done for myself in a long time. Once again I feel like I'm a part of something meaningful. My dojo-mates are my friends, and I feel a real camaraderie with them. Futen Dojo teaches traditional Japanese martial arts, and the rituals, teachings, philosophy, etc. all make it incredible special. My Sensei, Michael Coleman, is without a doubt one of the coolest, wisest people I've ever met. His wife is beyond lovely both outwardly and inwardly, and I care about them both very much.

When they recently decided to open a new dojo, I volunteered to help with it. Although the building existed, almost everything had to be redone. Painting, walls put up, a little Japanese-style house (the dressing room) had to be built, shoji screens assembled and mounted, TONS of cleaning, etc.

Keith and I (he takes Jujutsu now as well) volunteered as much as we could. We definitely were not the most skilled, nor did we have any special crafting talents, but we did what we could. We did end up having a knack for painting, especially edge and trim work. I can't think of a single wall in the new dojo that I didn't edge or paint or put a wall on or SOMETHING. I didn't do even half as much as a few key people who really deserve Sensei/Ana's gratitude, but I did what I could.

So looking at the new dojo, which is truly gorgeous, I feel a deep sense of belonging. I put a lot of myself into the place. I put a lot of goodwill and my own spirit into it, which I hope serves as a blessing. I believe that when you create something yourself, rather than just pay for it, it becomes more than just a structure with pretty Japanese decorations.

I was very pleased to be a part of the "private" opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday night. There was sushi, champagne, cake, etc. Sensei and his wife presented each of us who worked on the new dojo with a new Futen Dojo t-shirt as well as a daruma doll. Go to Wikipedia and look up daruma doll to know more, but basically they are hollow, spherical dolls with a face, supposedly that of the man who founded the Zen philosophy. The eyes are blank. You think of a goal or a wish, and fill in one of the eyes with ink. You then place the daruma doll somewhere where you will see it. When you pass it, or see it, you are reminded to take steps toward achieving your goal. When you have achieved your goal, or your wish is granted, you fill in the other eye.

Ana gave us these dolls, saying we had helped them achieve their goal of the new dojo, and they wanted to help us achieve our goals. The energy in the room as we silently filled in one of the eyes of our daruma dolls was just....I can't even find the words. The energy was amazing.

Afterward we watched a slideshow of various pictures of the dojo being created. In every picture I was in, I was painting. LOL Ana even said, "There's Traci painting again. Traci's an edging master." That was awesome, and made me smile.

After that, I got to be a part of the first group ever to actually use the new dojo to work on my Kyu. Keith and I both did. It was really cool.

Two weeks ago I also attended a two-day Shibu Kai, which is basically five hours a day of martial arts. Lots of things way above our level were taught to us. Lots of Ninpo, lots of usage of "tools" (read: bokken, hanbo, etc.), and lots of general practice. Very tiring weekend, but it was nice to see how physically fit I really am.

On Friday night I begin a separate weapons class in addition to the Jujutsu I already take. Eventually, once I get far along enough in Jujutsu, I will also be taking Ninpo, and possibly Koryu Karate. Along with the weapons classes, of course.

Other than that, I'm doing fine. I've lost 108 pounds (12 more to go), my most recently job evaluation went stunningly well (13 Exceptional ratings out of 17, with four Proficients), Keith has a new job in his field that pays well, John has a new job that pays well, and basically all is well.

My mom, as usual, has all sort of health issues that are relatively minor, but unrelenting, which tends to wear on you when you are an only child and already prone to anxiety.

Oh yes, and I adopted two bunnies from the Humane Society. Chewie and Zoey. Sassy things. I absolutely adore them.

Not that anyone who reads this lives in Milwaukee, but the Futen Dojo website is:

http://www.futendojo.com

You can find pictures of my bunbuns at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/10867218@N00/