pacifists should know how to defend themselves.

Someone had the temerity to suggest that the ring of fat I carry around my waist (which is merely cushioning and insulating a frame of iron-hard muscle) might disappear faster or at all if I modified my diet by, for example, eating one cookie rather than five.

But then I'd only have one cookie instead of five. Hmph.

I went to the Underworld show last night. Or I tried to. It was supposed to start at 7pm at the Fillmore, but the first of three(!) opening acts didn't come on until after 8pm, and for that more-than-an-hour, we were treated to unbelievably shitty taped music, distorted through the speakers almost as loud as they would go, with a mix that the Fillmore should be ashamed of: a middle-school student from the A/V Club could have made it a more pleasant experience. Somebody should tell them that the point of a mixer is not to experiment with how bad you can make something sound.

Eventually Dirty Vegas came on, which was fine, followed by Primal Scream, which was absolutely not. Even Murray, as hardcore for Underworld as he is, found them to be an endurance test. They ranged from noisy punk to wannabe techno, and none of it was very good. And while the sound engineer turned the volume down a bit, the sound still sucked.

So I'm exhausted, since I got up early in the morning to do aikido, then went to a wine-tasting, then dinner, and then I've been assaulted by the Fillmore for three hours by the time it gets to be 10pm--and then we find out that Underworld isn't even scheduled to go on stage until 11:30pm. Which meant a minimum 90 minutes of suffering. Fuck that. Underworld's good, but there are no bands I like that much to suffer for hours being really tired with incredibly loud, shitty music reverberating through my body.

I left with the friend I came with, found some food, watched a movie, and slept for a full eight hours or so. Today we followed through on the plan to stay in bed, fetch some breakfast, go back to bed, and generally do anything except go anywhere. None of which stopped my traditional Sunday moodiness, but that's okay. I enjoy being bitchy on Sundays (I hate Sundays, always have, and while it's not inevitable it's pretty likely that any given Sunday will find me bored, irritable, and unwilling to be entertained by anything in particular). Lucky for me, the friend keeping me company thinks I'm amusing and cute when I'm feeling bitchy, which just makes it more fun and easier for me to laugh at.

Training was good, at least. Yesterday was Tai Sai, the anniversary of O-Sensei's death, which we celebrate by continuing to train (and it's nice to read some of the things he said or wrote, to help us along). The dojo made a field trip over to the Aikido Institute, where Kim Peuser Sensei and Kayla-sensei were planning to alternate teaching. Well, Kayla-sensei was a bit late, and when we got there Kim-sensei had everybody line up kneeling, but instead of facing the shomen, the altar, he had us turn around and sit facing the door. The stragglers were all quite baffled, and hilarity ensued.

Speaking of aikido, my 5th kyu test was Thursday! It went really well, although I was really nervous and sweating bullets. Kelly says it looked really good, and while she has a soft spot for me, she doesn't say stuff just to make me feel better, and it felt like it looked pretty good, I bet she's right. Som did a terrific 5th kyu test too, and Carol did a good 6th kyu. We have a really nice group of beginners who are friendly, dedicated, and talented, and we all started training within the same four months, so we're all sort of progressing and learning together. It's an incredibly different feeling than Aikido West, where many if not most of the people have been training for decades.

Actually I sort of have responsibility now: at 5th kyu, I can no longer safely assume that everyone is higher rank than me. Aikido has etiquette associated with student seniority, the sempai/senior-kohai/junior relationship. The English translations don't quite do it justice, but essentially, seniority means that the kohai has an obligation to do what the sempai says (within reason--if someone's hurting you, respectfully do something about it) and to show considerable respect his or her opinion and judgement; the sempai is obligated to offer the kohai assistance, protection in circumstances where appropriate (more common in Japanese culture than in my Berkeley dojo), and guidance. In my case this means I have to tell off a rank beginner who tries to teach me stuff, which is inappropriate anyway but even more so because he doesn't know what he's talking about. (I'm guilty of this--we all like to teach, to look knowledgeable and be recognized as competent--but I'm learning to shut up, and I don't try to teach something I don't know.)

(I think I can hear Kelly chuckling as I write this, since she trains with me a fair bit and probably has clearer memories than I do.)

Besides the fact that it's annoying and disrespectful, there are plenty of dojos and aikidoka in the world that are way less warm and fuzzy than mine, and there are some (what I would consider to be) vindictive sempai who are willing to hurt someone in response to that sort of disrespect--taking falls in aikido practice involves trusting your partner to take care of you, and especially if you're taking falls and you're at a lower level of training, it's not at all hard for a partner to really seriously fuck you up if they want to.

(I have to admit to enjoying a much more limited form of this: I was practicing sankyo, an arm restraint used by police that involves rotating the hand and wrist in toward the body in a way that ends up completely locking the arm out away from the body. I know sankyo well enough to do it consistently, but the rank beginner I was training with was trying to talk me through it. One nice thing about sankyo is that you don't actually have to grab the hand--that's just the basic form, and one of the beautiful realities of martial arts is that fingers are very delicate and people will go wherever you take their fingers. I was doing the technique slowly, experimenting with the flow and feel of it, and he started talking me through it, so I got somewhat annoyed and said, "Well, technically I have sankyo already", took his four fingers at the right angle, and stood up into a very effective sankyo. I consider this, a mild bit of ass-kicking, to be a perfectly valid way to both shut someone up and hopefully get them to see that they really shouldn't have been talking in the first place. I get as good as I give: I typically crack up laughing if a sempai does it to me.)

And now, after a wonderful weekend, I am again alone in my cave. I just need a night or two at a time these days, but man, it's so important. I just can't be alone with other people around yet.