Archive for the ‘Shaolin’ Category

Back In It

January 16, 2016

“What you doing tonight?” The kid in the car asked tonight as I bundled myself, my messenger bag, my bag of leftover utensils and coffee jars, notebooks, readers, and books into the back seat of the car.

“Going out? Got plans? What’s your Friday look like?”


Ok kiddo.


I just want a ride home.

“Going home and sleeping so I can go back and do another eleven hours of class tomorrow.”



“Oh,” is right.

And I’m totally ok with that.

I actually feel pretty damn good about that.

I am in a different place with my classes this semester.

That being a state of preparedness.

I did all the reading for the weekend prior to class and even had enough time yesterday to re-read some of the articles for my Multi-Cultural class.


Get this.

I like all my professors.

ALL of them.

That feels really extraordinary.

I don’t know that much about the one credit online course that I have to do, I found myself talking to a fellow in my cohort and we commiserated on the idea that we already do a lot of what the class calls for–it’s applied spirituality–basically implementing some sort of daily spiritual practice into our school life.



Got that covered.

And immediately I copped a resentment.


I pray, write, I read spiritual readers, I pray some more, I review and reflect on my day, I call my people and check in with spiritual principles, what fucking more do you need?

I have to do more?


I thought, well, fuck, maybe this is God saying, change it up, shake it up, get flexible, there’s other things that you can do.

Maybe it’s time for some martial arts.

I used to study kung fu.

I could pick that back up or perhaps yoga.

I have a writing practice that I am loathe to give up and my prayer and meditation aren’t going to change, nor will my checking in daily with my people or the passing on of what I have been given.

It’s just not an option for me.

I have to do it.

It’s life or death.

And when I realized how seriously I take my routine I could see, with some perspective changing from my person that maybe instead of coming from a place of hubris I could come from one of humility.

In the discussion I realized the martial arts aspect.

I could also do T’ai Chi or Qi gong.

I have options.

Moving meditation is good.

Being in my body is good.

Something to explore.

The path narrows and I wish to stay on the path.

I have to as a matter of fact, so widening the circle of my spiritual exploration can’t hurt.


I could dance.


I have had spiritual experiences dancing.

That is a concept.

This is actually, now that I am writing about it, the way that I might just have to proceed.

More getting into my body and less my mind.

I am super self-reflective and thoughtful and aware, I live a moral life, I feel an ethical one too, at times, not always but I am highly aware of my values.

They are the spiritual principles that I have based my last eleven years of life on.

Moving out of a way that is logical for me and re-orienting myself in my body maybe just the next part of the spiritual path for me to explore.

Now that I have that covered.

I can focus on the rest of the weekend.

Which is basically showing up for my classes, being on time, contributing my knowledge to the conversation and engaging as much as possible with the material being presented.

I found myself so much more relaxed having covered all the material, even when it wasn’t necessarily brought up in the classes, it just gave me a sense of accomplishment and stillness in myself that I wasn’t anxious, that I could listen, that I could be attune to what was happening.

Basically, I got to practice being a psycho-therapist.

Which, you know, is the end goal here.

I actually left tonight being excited.

I felt alive.

In connection.

And grateful.

To see my friends and to re-connect with my classmates.

I had a little heart to heart with my dear friend from Paris and made plans with another friend for dinner the next weekend of classes.

I felt like I belonged and I was a part of and yes, still finding my way, oh, there’s forever that, and I discovered a new modality that I have a lot of interest in exploring–poetic therapy!


The teaching assistant for my class in the Clinical Relationship read a poem by John Fox to get us situated to being there in the first moments of class and it resonated so strongly with me I had tears coursing down my face just minutes after sitting in my chair.

The poem managed to ground me and uplift me and reminded me of a precious memory I have of my grandparents home in Lodi, Wisconsin.

They had there own well on the land and the water from the kitchen tap was always so cold and earthy and good, strong with minerals and pure, it tasted like all things right and it refreshed me in a way I don’t think any other water ever had.

My grandmother had a set of plastic green cups with pebbling on them, and for whatever reason as a child I was drawn to those cups.

I think water tastes best out of a glass, but there was something to those cups and I can remember filling them up and drinking the water, looking out the window into the back yard, seeing the stretch of lawn rolling towards the fruit trees and grape arbor, the vines and canes from the raspberries and the garden full of so much lush vegetation it is hard to enumerate all that was there.

Tomatoes and corn.

Onions and shallots, garlic, peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, wax beans, eggplants, okra, broccoli, and the many varietals thereof of the above vegetables and many I am sure I am forgetting–cabbage and brussels sprouts, red and green lettuce, asparagus, watercress.

The smell of the tilled earth, the warm of the grass on my feet when I walked barefoot through it.

A bowl of raspberries with sugar and cream in my grandmothers kitchen.

I was flooded listening to the poem.

And discovered another thing that I can use.

Another way, I can perhaps, integrate myself, my words, my language and vocabulary to help others.

Poetry as a way of being of service.


I’ll take it.

Happy to be so situated at the start of this, my second semester of graduate school.

It’s a lovely surprise.

Here’s to more.

I am ready.

Top 40

December 18, 2013

Reasons why my life is awesome.

In no particular order and to celebrate the last few hours left in my day before I turn 41 years old.

1. Getting sober.

My sobriety is the best thing in my life, without it I have absolutely nothing.  I got sober nearly nine years ago and though there have been some true challenging times, I have never looked back, never thought what I had is better than what I have.

My only wish, every birthday wish, every eyelash plucked off my cheek, every new moon rise I see over my left shoulder, every pinch of salt I toss, every time the clock strikes 11:11, every time I soar through a yellow light, the wish is the same.

Not please Santa/God/Universe bring me a boyfriend.

Please keep me sober today.

I could end the blog right there, but what fun would that be.

Besides I want to see what my top 40 are, I haven’t a clue!

2. Living in Paris

I leapt, I dreamed, I went after it.

It was terrifying and wonderful and surreal and I still don’t know what it all meant, but I did it and I am stupefied that I lived through it and am still getting to connect with people there.

3. Getting a bicycle.

“You really need to get a bike,” my friend Calvin said.


He was totally correct.

And once I got a bike, I never went back.

It all started with a hybrid from Pedal Revolution that I got about seven years ago.  Then a boyfriend gave me a Pogliaghi one speed Italian Steel whip.  God that was glorious.  After I was hit by a car and the frame got bent I went to a friends bike for a while that was too big and shifted on the down tube, don’t even remember what kind of touring cycle it was.  Then the Felt 35, which I rode doing the…

4. AidsLifeCycle 2010

The training rides, the butt butter, the saddle sores, the sag car (which I only rode in once and not ever during the actual event–I rode every 569 miles of that bitch), the drag queens on Red Dress Day.  Meeting my friend Shannon and her, not then, but soon to be, husband Alex, the man who came up to me while I was dancing in my clipless SiDi shoes at a rest stop on day 6 and said, “I know you’re doing this for Shadrach, and we all love you for it.”

5. Shadrach

Whom I still remember like yesterday.  An unexpected friendship that keeps on giving, even six years after his death.

6. The Essen Haus.

God you were a bitch to work at, but man, did I make some amazing friends there–Shannon, Stephanie, Beth, and I have horrifying, funny, and tortuous stories to tell of the place.

7. The Angelic Brewing Company

Oh, man, six years of my life running that place, the list is too long to thank all the people who affect me and infected my heart, I still get love and messages from one of the bar backs and bouncers there on every birthday, she remembers and finds me and sends me an e-mail or text or phone call.

All the mischief and all the growth.

8. Getting my black belt in Shaolin Kemp Karate.


9. Growing up in Wisconsin.

Yeah, and aside from  a “healthy” love of fried cheese dipped in ranch sauce, I won’t ever forget the winters, the summers, the snow, the fall colors, the apple orchards, Devil’s Lake, Rock of Gibraltar berry picking, the Lake Wisconsin Ferry boat crossing with bags of popcorn from the roadside stands.

10. My family

Whom I love beyond words.

11. Travel

London, Paris, Rome, Reno, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, LA, Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Saint Germaine-en-Laye, Toulouse, France, and so many other places in between.

12. Being asked for my autograph after a performance of “In Our Own Words.”

13. Burning Man

Just go read the gazillion blogs I have written, you’ll get the picture.

14. Being a nanny

a. Reno

b. Juniper

c. Ellaven

d. Milo

e. Rylan

f. Jones

g. Alice

h. Eve

i. Colette

j. Storm

k. Max

l. Sonya

m. Kareena

All the bunnies, monkeys, and pumpkins I could possible squeeze, squish, and love on.

15. Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2002

16. Certificate of Achievement in Independent Studies for the University Book Store Award for manuscript of poems, Translucent, 2002.

17. Getting published in the Bastille Spoken Word Journal of Paris, Summer Issue 2013 for my short story “The Button Boy”.

18. Recording and performing with Sunshine Jones of Dubtribe–music and lyrics–While You Were Sleeping, on his album Belle Ame Electronique.

19. Blogging every day for the last four years, this post will be #1,086

20.  My photography blog and really embracing the camera, and all the 1,000s of photographs I have taken since I got it.

21. My friends

I am nowhere without you.

No fucking where.

22. Trying surfing, trampolining, yoga, and learning how to ride a fixed gear.

23. My fantastic, amazing, incredible Mission Bicycle, my brilliant Navy Blue, RAL 5011, with a topcoat of Rock Star Sparkle and a big Classic Purple B52 rear rim.

24. Working a year in a bike shop

25. Moving to San Francisco

26. My tattoos

27. Seeing music live–Jeff Buckley, Underworld, Soul Coughing, M. Doughty, Beck, Pete Yorn, Goldfrapp, and so many other amazing musicians and shows.

28. Getting pulled onstage at the Spear Head concert by Michael Franti and dancing with him to an entire song.

29. Doing spoken word in Paris, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Madison

30. Having a spoken word album–Milk–which I don’t know that but five people have listened to.

31. Writing morning pages, three pages, long hand, every day for the last five years.

32. Moving to San Francisco in 2002

33. Riding my bicycle to the top of Mt. Tam

34. Getting pulled into the dj booth New Years Eve 2003 to dance with Donald Glaude at 1015.

35. Quitting smoking.

Eight years now.  Holy shit.  Almost forgot about that one.

36. All the museums I have gotten to visit.

The Louvre, SF MOMA, the Palace of Fine Arts, The DeYoung, Musee D’Orsay, the Orangerie, the Dali Museum, The Rodin Museum, Musee Branly, Musee Monet Momarttan, the Legion, the Pompidou, Musee Carnvalet, the National Gallery in London, the Tate Modern, also in London.

37. All the astounding, amazing, incredible, and wonderful women I have gotten to work with over the last eight and a half years.

38. Going abstinent from sugar and flour.

Losing 100 lbs.

39. Writing the rough drafts to three books.

40. Being alive to see and touch and taste and dance and sing and love.

Oh love.

How I low thee, let me count the ways.

I love so god damn much.

My heart so full.

Happy to be here another day, getting to be here another day, living another day.

Graced with my amazing life.



My Motives

February 25, 2012

Are ass.

And are about getting ass.  Literally.  Today I own up to wanting to go dancing to get asked on a date.  To wanting to go to Oakland to go dancing to see if I would possibly run into Mister West Oakland.

He likes to dance and I could see him hitting up the People’s Party.

My motives, bad new bears.  I know better.  And I have another admittance.

My licence is expired.  I say this because I was negotiating with myself about getting a City Car Share to drive over to Oakland to go dancing to impress some guy who I went on three dates with?

What the fuck?



And no.

Tuesday I have a date with the DMV to renew my licence.  It recently expired and I have to physically go in to the DMV to renew as I have moved around so much I don’t have the forwarded information they normally send and I missed my window to renew via mail.

Damn it.

Which, ultimately is good, good to admit I am not allowed to drive a car this weekend. I had a vision of getting pulled over and handing over my expired licence and oops, officer, how did that happen?

I was willing to lie to get some attention.

What else is new?

How about instead, I stay in the city and just because the show at Public Works got cancelled does not mean that there won’t be plenty of other things going on tomorrow night that I can ride my bike to.

I have great wheels that don’t require anything to ride them but a sense of adventure.  So, in the city I will stay.

Funny, I was relaying to Mrs. Fishkin this afternoon at work that the show at Public Works was the first show in a really long time that I have bought tickets to.  Wouldn’t you know it would get cancelled.

Hmmm, something just pricked the back of my memory, I think the Space Cowboys are playing somewhere in town this weekend?  Unfortunately, if memory serves, they’re playing Sunday night.  Sunday is not a great night for me to go out and dance, although it can be a fun night, the dance floor is a bit roomier.

It was already going off tonight as I was making my way home.  Staying off Valencia Street as much as I could.  The bike lanes are considered the double parking lanes and it is a wild fucking ride through that part of the Mission on a Friday night.  There was a lot of activity happening out there.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of just getting back to the homestead and getting cozy with my “new” space heater.  It is adorable.  I got it off Etsy.  It is definitely vintage, but it works really well.  I had a moment of what would it look like to go out and go dancing tonight, but the weather had shifted so drastically to the frigid side of town that I knew I would be happier going home.

My motives elsewhere are actually good.

Occasionally that happens.

I spent a little time earlier looking around for schools for Kung Fu here in the city.  And I discovered that the place I was hoping to go was still up and running.  It is the Eight Step Preying Mantis school here in the Mission.

I went to it when I first moved to the city and they are still operating.  I sent them off a query e-mail about classes and I am going to drop in over the weekend and check the rates out.  If I can swing it, I’m going to sign up.  I would like to be in classes three days a week.

I may even request a change in my schedule to accommodate the school.  I definitely feel ready to delve back into martial arts.  Mantis is not my first preference, but Kung Fu is, and the school is super convenient to where I live, it’s on 20th and Florida.  I live at 22nd and Folsom, it’s basically four blocks away.

I am excited.  Nervous, oh yeah, but excited too.

Adventures in martial arts, here I come.  I had to remind myself as well, that I will probably be frustrated and I will be challenged and I will get to fumble around and not be graceful.  I feel like enough time has elapsed since I last trained that I may actually be able to approach it as a new comer, with fresh eyes and hopefully with a new attitude about why I want to train.

I want to be in my body.  I want to be connected with myself.  I want to keep my strength, which I feel like is rapidly diminishing as I no longer sling toddlers around nor am I riding the same amount on my bike.  Plus there’s a good part of my day spent in a chair behind a desk.  I need to get my exercise on.

Lastly, and here’s where perhaps my motives are not so scrupulous, I want my body to look better.  I want to shape up what still needs a little re-shaping.  I want to drop that final dress size.  I am quite close to my goal, but I feel like I have been plateaued for a good while now.  A little push of exercise will get me there.

And I am not good at being a gym rat.  I need something that will be challenging and different.  I don’t just want to work out on machines.  Plus, the mental stillness I have experienced doing martial arts is stunning.

Getting out of my head and into my body is an important thing.  Despite wanting to out myself on my motives for going to Oakland, I will say this, dancing does it for me very well.  So, I will stop punishing myself, and pat myself on the head and tell myself, it’s alright, if it gets you out of the house on a Saturday night, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

I may not venture to Oakland, but I will venture out.

Suddenly Shaolin

February 24, 2012

Kung Fu, that is.

I am ready.

I met with Carolyn this morning before work.  It was one of the most productive things I have done this week.  I spent a lot of time grappling with some of the ways I punish myself around my life and what I do.

As though, if I hurt me first, you will be less inclined to.  Or, I will somehow win you to my side.  I don’t even realize I am punishing myself.

I relayed the story of why I stopped training in Shaolin to Carolyn today and wow did it bring up a lot of stuff.  I cried all my eye make up off before I even got into work today.  I worked before I worked, so to speak.

I am getting to have a new perspective and a fresh willingness to do the plan.  I am scared, excited, nervous. I told her about work and the fallout and the drama and how that has played out and got a little more relief and a lot more ego puncturing and a lot of insight.

I don’t feel like a thin layer is being pulled off, it feels like a slab of self is about to get lifted.  I don’t expect that it won’t be without pain, but I don’t have to suffer through it. It will and already has been a period of growth for me that I think I am only just beginning to understand.

One thing that I realized is that I want to train again.  I want to get back into Kung Fu.

I miss it.

I haven’t trained in 9 years.  I stopped training when I moved to San Francisco.  I received my black belt at the Frederick J. Villari school of self-defense in June of 2002.  My god, that’s almost a decade ago.  He is the Grand Master, I got the pleasure of meeting him three times and once getting to be in a workshop with him.  He developed the style, thus the name, and it is a combination of Kung Fu (about 85%Shaolin), Kempo (about 10%–grappling techniques), and Karate (%5, emphasis her on the kicking techniques)

At one point I could knock over a 190lb body bag without breaking a sweat.  You got over it real quick though as the bother of picking up the bag every time it toppled got annoying.  Eventually you tuned your kick to knock it 2/3rds of the way, just enough that it would slowly wobble and then come back up.

Eek.  I am getting old.

But if Mister Landretti can do it at the age of 50, he and I went up the ranks together and got our black belts around the same time, I think, then I can get back into it now at 39.

I did go to the Preying Mantis school of Kung Fu in the Mission when I first moved here.  But I rapidly out paced my abilities to show up for class with my ever-changing work schedule.

I further demolished whatever ties I had to kung fu when my cocaine usage outstripped my desire to train.

Hell, it outranked everything.

I ended up sharing a story with Carolyn about having met a Shaolin monk at R Bar in the Polk Gulch.  I was drinking, I was doing blow in the bathroom and I was sizing up the odds of whether or not I would be getting more.

There was a man, a small Chinese man, indiscriminate age, sitting next to me at the bar sipping a Seven Up.  He inquired after the tattoo on the back of my neck, the Chinese characters for Shaolin, a tattoo I got at Steve’s Tattoo on Willy St. in Madison after I had taken my black belt test.

He asked if I trained Shaolin.  I said yes.  He asked if I went to temple.  I said no.  He asked to see my Horse stance.  I hopped off my bar stool and dropped into the stance.

He knocked me over without getting off the stool.  He pushed me over with a finger tip.

I was mortified.  I politely declined his invitation to come check out the temple he taught at and slunk off to the loo to do more blow.

I could not get his face out of my head.  I could not do enough powder to forget that feeling of failure.  When I got back to the house that night, I was living on 22nd and Alabama, I threw away my black belt.

I felt that I did not deserve it.

Carolyn likened it to punishing myself.  And that I was still, years later, almost a full decade later, still, punishing myself.

Oh my god.

She is right.

How could I not see this?  I earned that belt.  I worked my ass off.  I trained after school before work.  I would get done with classes on the UW Madison campus and head to the dojo and take a class and train until I had to go to work.  Then I would work from 6 p.m. to close.

Repeat, lather, rinse, repeat.

Add a lot of vanilla lattes to the mix.

A lot.

I drank so much caffeine I swore I kept Steep and Brew in business.

I miss training.

I think I said that already.  I am seriously considering Shaolin again.  I would like to surf.  But I don’t have a car to get to the beach or a surf board.  I would like to do yoga, but I don’t know that I am that interested in it to pursue it.

I am already, however, thinking about how it feels to do Katas and how to run numbers and how to do my blocking sequences.  I can feel how my body wants to do it again, I can feel the yearn for it along the muscles in my arms.

I want to throw a punch with beauty and grace and precision.  I want to feel the ache in my thighs again from standing in stance for so long that the muscles trembles with fatigue.

I do like to punish myself!

But what a way to get back into my body.  Kung Fu.

Just saying it makes me smile.  It’s time to do Kung Fu again.


%d bloggers like this: