Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy Kendo


The weekend was all about the kendo gasshuku - my very first one, in fact. I was quite anxious the whole week prior to it because I was going to retake my bogu evaluation after having just joined the club on the second quarter of this year. I had to restart from the beginning, unlearn some habits, and learn new things. And then, I admit, I was also anxious because there were going to be lots of people. Lots and lots of people. And people close to me know how I fare when there are People, especially Many People. 


Mico was also going to take his bogu evaluation. There were also shiai for various groups. Mico and I were teammates under a team captain I admire and look up to in kendo. Of course I was both nervous and excited about the shiai, but it was really the bogu evaluation which took up pretty much of my mind (^^U) and took away my appetite :))))))))


As it turned out though, I did not mind the many-people so much. I still felt exhausted but not drained. I also had small pockets of time alone or with Mico, particularly when we were all checked in at the hotel. I also had nice room mates, and generally most of the the people present for most of the event were pleasant people, and many, so many of them, were supportive and encouraging. 


We all had to take the evaluation three times - the first one was a trial, then twice again for us to work on our problems with footwork or handling the shinai or raising our kiai or maintaining our energy level, among other things. We were all quite anxious and at various points felt resigned, only to be fired up again at the thought of actually passing it. As for me, I miss practising in my bogu; I have stopped wearing my bogu in March, when I took a leave from kendo and made decisions regarding my kendo journey. The following month, I joined Igaken where I restarted from the beginning, which I also appreciate and, looking back, helped me reset and experience kendo in a different way and learn its lessons in a more cheerful and friendly environment. Anyway, since then, I only wore my bogu on a few occasions when we had practice-shiai. Otherwise, I spent the past half-year relearning the basics and correcting old mistakes and habits. 


Mico is also quite eager to pass the evaluation and to learn kendo in bogu. Before the gasshuku I wrote on his zekken which he would use in the gasshuku shiai and on his bogu when he finally gets it. I used my old zekken with some alterations. It was nice to see our zekken together and we were hoping and wishing that we do make it in the evaluation. When we went to the Sunday market last week, we even found really pretty tenugui of various designs, and he got one for me and himself. We used them during the gasshuku shiai (^___^) during which we both had one win each from our matches :) I was placed in the bogu-level matches even though I was still technically not in the bogu class just so we could complete the number of players for each category, and I really enjoyed all my matches (^___^)


In the end our team won, and became champion for the team shiai (^________^) I was actually fired up because even if I only just met some of my team mates, I was inspired by how they all did so well :) 

As for the bogu evaluation, we all passed :') After 2000 suburi on the first day, three takes of the exam (3.5 for me because I had to re-do my uchi komi D:), and inexplicable levels of anxiety, we made it finally :D When we turned around  to face everyone to say our thanks especially to all the senpai, it was such a nice, warm, happy feeling to see all the faces looking back at us with sincere and supportive smiles. Then they all flocked to us to give us hugs and express their happiness for us. Personally, this was a very very new and a very refreshing experience for me in the context of kendo. I have never felt so much support and sincerity from so many people in a club. People did not just come to us for the obligatory congratulations and to give empty or even inappropriate comments; you can really see on their faces that they were thrilled for us and happy for us just as we were thrilled and happy for ourselves. Many of the senpai also cheered us on, and it was very heartwarming and new for me to have a lot of senpai around me who were all very eager to teach us and help us move forward. In fact, it helped me a lot to push on because of the many supportive senpai who really showed they wanted us to pass and patiently reminded us about what we needed to do and what we had to refrain from doing. It felt really warm and great to be around senpai who neither blamed nor bullied; of course no place or group is perfect, but I feel that when I took this path months ago, I picked the right one. I may have had my moments of doubt, and my stress about the bogu evaluation, and my occasions of feeling so hopelessly unskilled, but this time, I can see what I told myself before as one of the reasons I picked this path - that I think this is a better environment for me. Most, if not all people, are very competent instead of just crazy-competitive. My lack of skill is not taken against me personally. I am given space but I am not shunned. I am not discriminated against for my body size, my age, or my lack of charm. I am patiently corrected and lectured, not scolded based on a mood nor yelled at just because I am not popular or not capable of a charismatic laughter. Most people just really come to learn and improve their kendo, and not just to be better than others. Many people here actually inspire me without even knowing it. Here, despite my own disappointments about myself and my doubts about my capabilities, I have again experienced the happy kendo that I felt a few times before, but lost at some point for a very long time. Moving forward, I am sure I shall have occasions of doing badly, but I also know I will someday improve, given this right kind of environment. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Photo (Fl)op, Happy Fruit

I just need to, you know, get it together, and perhaps a proper picture can be taken. 



I admit, I am just not very good with having my picture taken. Some of my nicest ones were taken with no one else in the room except me and my computer, and usually it is on very specific days or occasions, because I rarely look picture-taking-great. And even then I have to take 4,000 tries before I come up with something I like. (Okay maybe not 4,000. I do not have that much time and my face just kind of, you know, stays the same kind of pudgy. But you know what I mean.) I cannot even take a selfie using my phone because a camera at my arm's length makes me look either too dim sum or too mango. 

However, it can be fun taking pictures with Mico because it becomes all about the fun and laughter as opposed to how planet-like I must look. I just become a happy planet or perhaps a happy mango. (Okay maybe after 30 photo flops.) Soon enough, I just feel comfortable enough to just be. I may dislike 90% of my pictures, but I know I had fun and that he's just fine with how they all look. Sometimes he snorts from trying to suppress a laughter but still :))))))))))

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Have A Group, Too


I have always been the odd one in any group, during the very few times I actually belonged to one, or at least thought I did. 



I grew to realise I did better with one or two very close friends, or at most a very very small group with two or three other people. 



While this is fine and I eventually grew to accept this, sometimes, I admit that it gets to me when I would think I have become part of something, only to realise that there are cliques, sometimes way too many, inside it, that it would almost feel odd that I did not even make it to any one of them, not even the smaller, or smallest ones. That, or the supposed clique included practically a large number of the main group, including the few ones extremely close to me, and yet somehow, there is always this invisible wall that I always ended up bumping into. 



Is there a secret door I missed, or perhaps a password that failed to reach me? Or perhaps have I been unknowingly wearing a sign that said groups are unwelcome? Did my eyebrows do that unconscious thing again? Has it been my too-manly-for-a-lady-yet-too-weak-for-a-man sound and tone of voice? Is it my bitchy resting face? Does my occasionally unnerving oddness show more than I want it to? Or worse, are the gears in my head actually audible to others?



I can be painfully introverted, but I can be the most genki person in the room if not put on the spot and if people did not act so warily around me. As if letting me in is like opening a can of weird.



I admit that part of my strangeness, which I have grown to be unapologetic about, is that I get so drained when there are many people around, even more so when I have to interact or when highly expected to mask over this face I cannot do anything about. But it does not mean I do not want to join even for five whole seconds. It's not you. It's really just me.  



I have grown accustomed to how things are, though. Then, when I have to, when I really really have to mingle even though all the cliques around me are just being polite while being wary, I just make sure I do not forget to breathe.  



In any case, I do have a group now. We do not always get together for things and sometimes we just read books quietly by ourselves, or write in journals or paint quietly in groups. We are quiet most of the time, and on occasions when we do have heated discussions, I am actually comfortable enough to speak up and tell them to stop and breathe and think. 



They are a quiet lot, but I discovered them when I embraced the reality that it is not so bad to be unwelcome to other cliques and that it is not anyone's fault why they may find me a bit too odd or unsettling or not clique-kind-of-great enough. 



I am aware that talking about this group just added layers of weird and unwelcome, but I guess this is how it also helps me recognise and appreciate a person when he or she actually gets past that weird and sees me for the normalest person that I actually am. 




So there, a painting of myselves, called "I Have A Group Too." And the above is a screenshot of a portion of my Google+ page which I rarely visit and when I did the last time, I just had to use that image and fill in those details. 

In this clique, you are welcome. You may feel left out, but you aren't. This clique is candid and caring and maybe sometimes creepy, but here, we will all embrace you. 

Unless of course, you do anything to Drain or Drag. Otherwise, it is warm and nice. Maybe unsettlingly quiet, but no one is requiring you to fill in the silences. As long as of course, you are comfortable. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

*Wave*

A sketch of me by Mico ^___^

This is something like a template wave I have for him  before going out for a run :))

Make others smile today ^___^ Make them something that is Them :) 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Presents For The Happy Peach

I am somewhat excited and anxious because tonight I am bringing my first largest pieces (so far) to the home of my friend Midge who asked me to do the paintings in the first place XD She saw bits and pieces of them via Instagram, but I never posted the whole thing there because I did not want her to see them just yet :D Tonight she will, and I cannot help but feel a bit anxious XD Anyway, what matters is that I did my best in them and I learned and practised as I went along :) Later she will see them and I will see her reaction to them XD 

I have never had an easel before, so I improvised when painting the triptych mentioned above. I planned to get one though, but I was trying to decide which one to get first - something I could place on my desk or something much bigger. Before I could even decide, I got an adjustable one as a 2nd-supermonth present (^____^) from the person I am sharing the 2nd-supermonth with of course XD 

My first easel (^____^)

In the photo above it was adjusted for tabletop use, but now, if I have to paint something as big as the pieces in the triptych, I can work by the window in natural light, because I would not have to rely on the corner space that acted as "support" for the canvas. I can simply readjust the easel and paint away (^_____^) I think it is a really really sweet and thoughtful present (^___^) 

Outside of this occasion, there were other happy presents carefully thought out and thoughtfully selected that I got on different days :)

A book on feline-themed art :3 

A super-kawaii mouse pad to replace my ancient one with, uhm, Crisis Core on it. This felt really symbolic on so many levels. I would prefer though if borrowed games were returned even if I never have to see the borrower ever again. 

Bookmarks! XD I have turned various items into bookmarks and it is quite nice to get and use proper ones again XD

Art. Cats. Pretty and odd things. Japanese themes. Books. Oddness. Quirks. Walks. Laughter. So much laughter. I am in just one place yet I am free and I am everywhere. And I shall always be thankful, not just for these pretty objects, but everything that brought them about. The Happy Peach has progressed from being a projection, a title, into being an actual happy thing. All the unhappiness and the learning of very tough lessons paid off. Now I am just cleaning up residual bits here and there, quiet and calm, no longer afraid, and no longer hidden. 

Just like my triptych! *anxious again* XD I must get dressed now. And soon show Midge my painting. I hope she likes theeeem XD *breathe*

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Those Faces

Sometimes, you look at your candid pictures and you realise you just do have Certain Facial Expressions. 


Yes. Those faces. 

Speaking of faces, I have recently come to sort of accept that my eyebrows give off a certain impression that does not really help me given my already Bitchy Resting Face. I did not want to accept it at first when a friend told me that there is something about my face that makes people feel and think that I am distant and somewhat cold and as though I did not know a single thing about chores and street food. This shocked me because I feast on street food and grew up doing all sorts of household chores (except ironing because I have this knack for wasting electricity after still ending up with wrinkled clothes). So there came the theory among many that it must be my eyebrows. I could not argue because perhaps, I thought, short and angry-looking eyebrows make me look hostile and undusty and foiegrasfed.

Then one day I took a photo of my reflection in the mirror because I liked my colours that day and later on when I looked at the photo of my reflection (not me but my reflection yes I know okay moving on), I believe I saw what my friend was talking about that people "saw." My reflection was cheerfully smiling in the picture and I still remember how light and happy I felt that day, but somehow, my smile looked like it is somewhere between Having A Good Day and Disparaging A Passerby. Like if I were someone else and I smiled at me that way, I would briefly feel cheered up by the smile but that cheered up feeling will immediately be followed by the uncertainty if I were really smiling at me sincerely or I were just pretending to smile at me but I am really mocking my calves or the quality of my skirt. In any case, such is my face, and at least the people close to me and who matter to me and to whom I matter all know that despite this Bitchy Resting Face I am usually really sincere and just painfully quiet, and I won't just really get out of my way to make my face friendlier because then I would look totally wimpy and asking to be bullied. I know because I have tried. For years. And for years I looked wimpy and was bullied. So now I am tired and just resting, hence the Bitchy Resting Face which is my natural state. But that is just how it looks. In reality it is just the Resting part that is me. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sewing Onto A Skirt and Shopping Bags

Recently I have been sewing ribbons and lace onto a plain light-pink corduroy skirt of mine to redesign it and give more life to it. I intend to finish it today. I just need to add the last layer of ribbon and I am done :) 

First, I selected the ribbons and lace I will add to the skirt :) 

See that black dot? That was also part of the reason why I wanted to dress up this skirt XD That ink stain! :D

The most recent one I added was the lace. Later, I will just sew on the last ribbon :) 

Doing this made me recall how I spent my days before sewing various designs onto shopping bags which we sold out eventually. Back then it was my work and it was all I did, until we sold out most of our merchandise and it was time to close shop. Here were some of the shopping bags I sewed designs on: 

Black Apples

The black apples, being carried by my sister

Blue and Pink Hearts

Carrot on White Background

Carrot on Yellow Background

Cupcake and Coffee

A Dress

An Eggplant

Eggs

Golden Cat Face

Green Apple

Leaves from Various Seasons

My sister with the leaves from various seasons

A Pineapple

A Flower with Prints On It

A Red Apple

Strawberry on Violet Background

Strawberry on White Background

A Tree

The Violet Cat

My sister carrying the violet cat

White Hearts

Two of the bags on display in one of our bazaars

Three of the bags on display

Five of the bags on display :D

Now, I shall get to finishing that skirt :) It's the rainy season here now where I am, so it is a good time to stay indoors and just redesign things into new ones by sewing pretty shapes and themes on them :) 
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