Tuesday, June 26, 2007

tai chi/irritating bystanders/sewing

Suddenly, it is the end of June. And we've got 3 1/2 weeks until tai chi tournament.


I am so not in a competitive mood right now. The SP and I just want to hide in our shady air-conditioned cave, with occasional bicycle forays out in the evening for citrus fruits and tandoori chicken. We have had no time to work on the house since, oh, about the first of April. We have made small ventures into the back yard to hack down brush and reclaim the back yard--the SP cut down two 10-foot-tall junk trees this weekend--and I did a great deal of sewing this weekend.

My friend, for whom I am making the wedding dress, has decided to elope, thank Ghod. It was what they really wanted to do, anyway. That means she will need the dress somewhat sooner than planned, but not sooner than I had planned, and this means I don't have to make a dress for myself to be in the wedding. Regardless, I want to get the thing done as soon as possible, so it's out of my living room and neither of us have to worry about it anymore.

That plan, however, is somewhat in conflict with my need to practice. I believe I have made some progress in tai chi this year, only by virtue of attending class regularly and not via any particular effort on my part (This could be self-delusion). However, Sit is making noises about the SP and me doing internal form, a/k/a the taihui form, at competition. I think he may be doing that to scare us. Or possibly as a form of motivation.

I know it well enough, at least the first half of it. It's just really really ugly. I don't have a "feel" for it. My feet are sloppy, my knee is out of place, my hands are not twisted enough, I have too much hand movement. I know these things. Sit took rather a lot of time to drill me on them last weekend. Attention from the master is always appreciated.

Also, I am feeling rather fat and flabby of late so I went over to the vacant mall across the street during lunch to practice a bit. Herein lie the irritating bystanders.

That mall is nearly empty of stores. There's a Macy's at one end, a Sears at the other, and a big swath of the middle has been converted to offices. But the main promenade of the mall is still empty, the stores dark and locked up, and a great many older folks come around from the nearby retirement villages to power-walk in the relative cool. This is great, as far as I'm concerned. They don't get in my way, they're quiet, they're usually friendly, and they keep the place from being scarily deserted.

The only problem is, they want to talk. I'll be standing there at the end of an otherwise deserted hallway, moving my body in strange mechanical ways, hopefully with a frown of concentration on my face, and as soon as they get within 10 feet of me they hollar, "How you doin?" or "What's that?" or "Looking good, there, what do you call that?"

One tiny lady, about sixty, had a very strong eastern-European accent and was clearly hard of hearing. She came up very close and started asking me what it was, where I had learned it, how good I was, and no wonder I had such a great figure. "I'm practicing right now, I can't stop to talk," I said, pointedly. "Oh, all right," she said, and a beat later, "How long have you been doing this?"

Anyway. Now I remember why I never liked practicing in public. I can handle weird looks, it's the intrusion that annoys me. People act as if you're performing. Maybe I should put out a hat with some change.

In other news, Sit and his wife went to China for two weeks at the beginning of June. They have been less than enthusiatic about the trip. "It was crowded," Sit said. "And the food is bad."

He's seemed kind of depressed since he got back. I don't know if it's because the trip was a drag, or he's suffering some kind of survivor's guilt for getting out of China as a young man, or if it's related to his classes shrinking to almost non-existent status. The SP and I are the only ones who come consistently to kung fu anymore, and usually only one other person shows, but it's always a different person, and always a beginner, so we end up going over the same material again and again. Hence, Sit's pushing us to resume the internal form. I feel sorry for him, having two lazy butts like us as his top remaining students.

Still, three weeks until tournament is somewhat motivating. At the very least I can pull out a couple of old forms and brush them up. I'm looking forward to the trip, and the workshops and the interesting stuff, but I really don't feel like competing.

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