Bachi Bruises

Another week, another slew of new things to learn. We actually warmed up with something brand new. By the end of the night, we’d done so much drumming that the bony parts of my hands were starting to bruise. Kind of like when I first started playing hockey. It’s a good reminder that I’m still a taiko n00b.

On the upside, I kept up well enough to get the first line call for a final run of everything we were working on in the first half of class. I couldn’t tell if it was because Sensei wanted a solid finish going into break, or if he wanted to evaluate my drumming more closely. Either way, it was nerve wracking. Don’t mess up. DON’T MESS UP!!

I didn’t mess up.

Learned some more big movement arms in the air shifting back and forth sequences. I love those.

Nashvegas

I finally made it to Nashville last weekend. I’ve been wanting to visit since I was a wee little Asian country music fanatic living in Boston.

I’m not much of a country music lover these days, but this trip wasn’t for the music. It was for food! That, and the spectacle of Lower Broadway, a.k.a. Bachelorette Party Central. Bars and live music door after door after door, with the occasional boot shop sprinkled in. It was overwhelmingly loud and quite crowded.

Not loud or crowded, but overwhelmingly giant: The Gaylord Opryland Resort. It’s not a hotel, it’s a mini-city! That’s a thing??? Coming soon: a water park! I’m not even kidding.

Back to why I went: Food! I’m pretty sure I had biscuits and gravy every day. (Biscuit Love!) And barbecue. (Martin’s!) And hot chicken. (Boltons!) And meat-and-three. (Monell’s! That was more like three meat-and-threes, in a single meal.)

Also did an overnight trip to Chattanooga. Got a wonderful tour of the Tennessee Aquarium, then learned how to make bánh xèo from Hanh’s Mom. Super awesome unexpected bonus!

It was a whirlwind trip. So glad I go to do it! Much gratitude to Hanh for inviting me and her family for their hospitality.

Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Doko Don

Holy bachi, taiko class is really picking up! We added a few new parts to our existing songs a couple weeks ago, then this week we jumped straight into a full set of something we practiced briefly in… February or March? In the second half of class, we learned a full set of something completely new to us.

I can’t tell if this is because Sensei feels time pressure to teach us everything before our show in January, or if he thinks we’re actually good enough now. I suspect it’s the former. Yikes!

For Decorative Purposes Only

In today’s episode of finding and cracking random lost locks, I am now in possession of a fabulously decorative but most definitely not secure Master Combo Lock, model 620DAST.

Master Luggage Lock Crack

I Googled how to crack master luggage lock, clicked on the first link, was taken to a USA Today article, and followed the instructions. Despite not setting a timer, I’m pretty sure it took under 5 minutes to open.

Locks continue to disappoint me.

No Going Back

Last week I found myself suiting up for hockey. My first game back! I was so excited.

As I finished putting my right shinguard on, I remembered: I can’t come back.

I turned to my teammate on my right. It was Raika. Last year I had to tell her I couldn’t play with the team in Thailand. This time I had to tell her I couldn’t play right before game time.

I wasn’t sad about it. Just like last year, I simply accepted it as fact. The only part I found upsetting was that I had to disappoint my teammate. Again.

I suspect I had this dream because now, a year later, I’ve decided I’m done coaching. I didn’t wake up one day and tell everyone; I’ve sort of let this idea settle in as I’ve stayed off the ice all summer. Now that Winter season is starting, people have been asking me whether I plan to continue coaching. My answer has been a consistent, natural, no. Not that I don’t like to coach, but it’s an awful lot of time and preparation, and while it’s rewarding, it doesn’t bring me anything close to the joy of playing an actual game. So while I have skills and knowledge to share, I no longer have super rad stoke to share. The skaters deserve more stoke, and I have a long list of things waiting for more time.

And so another chapter has ended. I’m grateful for the year I spent coaching after I stopped playing. I had fun designing practices and creating light bulb moments. In exchange, I got to process my impending full retirement from the ice.

Here I am, fully processed, and fully retired. It’s peaceful here in my hockey world.

As for all my other worlds… I could really use some more time for all these new hobbies.

Wah, Why Do I Sound Like Eso?

I studied French in middle school, high school, and a semester of college. Somewhere along the way, I noticed my accent sounded different from those of my classmates.

Instead of sounding like an American speaking French, I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese French accent.

Last week in Spanish class, we took turns reading a conversation. I properly “j”ed my “ll”s (I’ve decided to go west with my Spanish) and rolled my “rr”s, but I realized upon finishing one of my lines that something was off.

Aside from my work in progress “o”s and “e”s I didn’t sound much like my classmates, but I didn’t sound like my instructor either.

I sounded like a Chinese speaker. I had a Cantonese Spanish accent.

It’s not always there, but when it shows up it sounds really, really odd.

So Much Don Don

Taiko class tonight was soooo good! We learned a few new parts and resurrected a sequence from early in the year, before I knew what I was doing. It was so much easier this time around! And the new stuff was so much fun.

We had exactly as many students as drums, so we didn’t get the usual rotation rest. After the first hour we took a break. Everyone was exhausted, but we all had giant smiles on our faces.

I wonder what we’re gonna learn next week.

Elephant Adventure 38: Listen Like a Sponge

Listen like a sponge. Don’t speak, just listen.

I haven’t written about an Adventure in over two months. I stalled on this one. It was hard. I’d remember to do it, but then forget when in conversation. Because how often do you find yourself in a conversation that doesn’t expect a response? Certainly not at work. I feel this works best when you’re in a one-on-one conversation with a friend, but not a group of friends, because in a group setting not talking often relegates you to outside observer.

But even in a one-on-one setting, most conversations expect contribution from both parties.

I did find myself in a few qualifying conversations over the course of this exercise. Conversations in which there is no right answer, no expectation of a response. Conversations in which I could just listen.

And when I did, I heard more than words. I heard emotion, pain, hope, fear, sincerity, compassion.

When I think about this, I realize that sometimes when we want someone to talk to, what we really need is someone to listen.

Perhaps with this realization I’ll find it easier to remember to just listen.

Elephant Adventure 39: Appreciation

First Line

In taiko class, the drums are arranged in two rows. More experienced students play in the front row, so students in the back row can watch and learn. Sensei decides who plays in which row.

This past month, depending on turnout, I’ve started to get more time in the front row. The first time it happened, it was a little nerve wracking. I was playing directly in front of Sensei and I really didn’t want to mess up.

Yesterday, I spent most of our 2 hour class playing in the front. I definitely worked harder on form to not look like a slacker, but mentally everything felt normal.

After class, one of the regular front row students asked, “How’d you like your extended run on the first line?”

The first line! That’s how you know you’ve made it in hockey.

I guess I’ve made it in taiko now too.

(I’m kidding. You know I’m kidding, right? It’s ridiculous how much there is to learn.)

Nonstop

This weekend, I looked at a 5.10a route and asked, “How quickly can I climb this thing?”

I tied in and scrambled up the wall as fast as I could. 57 seconds.

Once back on the ground, I counted the number of hand hold moves: 20.

Given the standard pattern of hand hold, move one foot, move other foot, repeat, that comes out to approximately one move per second.

On one hand, I’m pleased that I could decide and move without interruption. Also, my forearms weren’t at all tired from the climb.

On the other hand, it simply wasn’t fun. It turns out one of the things I like about climbing is deliberately planting and feeling a solid hold and balanced body position. I don’t get that when I’m just trying to move fast.

Speed climbing (this wasn’t even close), definitely not my thing.