Tag Archives: improvisation

There’s Only This

Three essays about living in the moment.

周六在政治大學上合氣道,有做名為後兩手取腕㧕的技法。此技法是對手從後方抓手脖時將他帶到前方、通過一肢手向下壓制 。再練習當中,先輩問我:
「你有沒有感覺上你在推我?」
「有」
「你想要控制我,但是要先控制你自己。」
我再做一次,仍有推他的感覺。先輩就有幾會得平衡感再站直了。他解釋
「你推我,我也只會跑得遠。但是你破勢了。要先控制你自己才可以控制我。」
我點點頭 。然後試試將他帶到前方後,不推而讓他靠近我身体之處將他指導下去。此時做得好。

釋放希望控制別人時,反而較易得到希望的結果。

Saturday evening Kizomba class
The lead teacher is a Brazilian woman with skin the color of a milky café latte and big bright eyes. She shakes my hand, in greeting, and as we exchange names she continues to hold my hand, and maintains eye contact. I feel connected, and the rest of the room falls away, and I feel as if the rest of the room has fallen away for her, too. It feels completely natural, but not sexual. It was like sharing a glass of water with a friend on a hot day.

When we break contact, she becomes teacher again, and I assume my role as student. I feel a deep admiration, and wonder if I will ever be able to make people feel as comfortable.

During one set, she sees that we are uncomfortable with each other. Many of us are meeting each other for the first time, and kizomba is a dance done in close proximity. “Ok,” she says kindly, “hug it out. I want you to hug each other, get it all out. Connect with your partner.” She leaves a moment of silence, and then continues with teaching us another move sequence.

There is a male instructor. I ask him a question about leading a move called the Estrella. He shows me by facing the same direction as me and connecting his right hip with my left hip, and he counts beats and moves. I move with him, and instantly understand.

After the kizomba class, I go with B, O, and K to a salsa party, B (who is Taiwanese) said of a Taiwanese instructor that he was the “best Taiwanese instructor, excluding foreigners,” because she said “there is something the foreign teachers have that Taiwanese teachers don’t have.”

I think I know what it is – I felt it in the way the female teacher made time stop a little for self-introductions by holding onto my hand a little longer. I felt it in the way the male teacher took me through the timing for the Estrella without using any words to explain. I think it is in the way Brazilian or other Latin American people are so comfortable with touch. They use it just as fluently as they use words to talk. Americans feel like they need to talk to stay connected. Japanese people feel like they need to maintain a respectful distance. Taiwanese people use touch a little bit more, but Latin American people are carrying on entire conversations with touch. I felt a little homesick for a place I’ve never been.

土曜日のキゾンバクラスの後、サルサのパーティーにいった。ある男と話したて分かった事。サルサはオンワンとオンツーの踊り方がある。違いは踏み出すのを一と五の表紙にするのか二と六の表紙にするのか。私はずっとオンワンで踊ってきたが、最近のニューヨークと台湾の流行はオンツー。音楽は同じサルサの音楽けど、踊り場の人の動きを見ていてもよくわからなかった。待っても何も起こらないけど。
踊ってない女性に聞いた 「オンツーでしょう?」
「そう。」
「俺はオンワンしかやったことがない。」
「私は逆にオンツーしか踊った事がないけど、リードすれば頑張って付いていく。」
そこで踊った。何回か失調したけど、協調を取り戻して、案外一緒に踊れた。なんだかオンツーの踊りなれている人の所為かビートの前に動こうとしている用に感じて凄く流暢に動けた。
曲が終わったら、「ありがとう」と俺が言った。
「あんまり付いていけてなくて、ごめんね。」
「いいえ、とんでもないです。」
前話した男がこっちに来て「いい動きをしているね。」と褒めてくれた。
俺は微笑んだ。「ほんとに?いやーね、相手はオンツーしかやったことがなくて、俺はオンワンしかやったことがなくて、よく動けたな。」
「オンツーは少しなれないといけない。俺もずっとオンワンだったが、今はみんなオンツーしかやらないから、なれるしかなかった。少しずつなれてきた。」一拍おいてから話し続けた「まだオンワンのほうが少し得意けど。」

これで自分の歳をちょっと感じた。それと同時に、やってきた事は無駄じゃない。この曲で二人がしてきた訓練をもとに、失調を許してお互いの意図を探ったら、よく動けた。一曲では始まり、進捗、そして終わりがある。そこでの勝負は一方通行でやり直しがない中で、いかにお互い支え合って楽しく動けるか。もっと踊りに限らず、即興的に、相手のいいところに準じて、利になる事がしたい。

Housing Surprises

My things have not arrived. They were supposed to have arrived Friday (two days ago), but the moving company is estimating Oct 15. There was a shipment delay whose cause I have not yet identified.

However, since I had planned for this possibility, it has been the least of my problems.

20140928-090754.jpg

My bed is a rollable camping pad. No sheets, but I brought four aikido uniforms. The tops of two are pillows. The rest of the camping pad is wrapped variously with another top, two bottoms, and an small towel. A large towel is a blanket. The uniforms are all clean, and I ran a rag across the floor, which is now clean enough to eat off of. I still have one more uniform for training, which will be able to wash with the washing machine I bought yesterday.

I have slept three nights on this so far, and it is comfortable. The first two nights were in a room with a window toward the four-lane Xinhai Road. Being about 100 meters away from the road, I had thought that it would be quiet enough. With the window closed, it was indeed quiet enough to fall asleep, but every so often throughout the night, very loud motorcycles would speed by, waking me up. I suspect these have been modified by having their mufflers removed.

There is another bedroom, with a window on a courtyard. I had tried to sleep in this one the second night, but when I turned the air conditioning on, it did not smell right, and when I lay down, my eyes became very itchy. This was in spite of making the floor clean enough to eat off of. I turned the air conditioner off, but worrying about what was in the air, I returned to the first room – the one with the window facing Xinhai Road. My eyes did not itch upon waking up.

The third night, I slept with the air conditioning off in the second room – the one with the window to the courtyard. With the air conditioning off, my eyes were fine. As I was falling asleep, I was woken up once by my neighbor’s retrieving and replacing the shower hose from its receptacle. Evidently, the wall is thin here. However, the road noise did not bother me, and I slept through the night.

I was woken this morning by the cooing of innumerable pigeons. It seems that my downstairs neighbors are farming pigeons on the balcony just under mine in the courtyard.

20140928-093245.jpg

my courtyard balcony

This explains the few downy feathers I found yesterday morning when I scrubbed the balcony. One other thing I noticed after I scrubbed was a strange biological smell – it was unpleasant enough that I closed the sliding door to the courtyard, which I had hitherto kept open during the day because it had a cooling effect on the entire house. I thought maybe the mildew in Taiwan is different, but now I know that it was the faint smell of bird shit. They probably do a good job of cleaning, or else it would have been instantly identifiable. The mystery of my itching eyes is also now solved – I attribute it to particulate bird shit and bird dander having made their way into the air conditioning unit. The problem with this is that even if I ask the landlord to clean the air conditioning unit, it would not solve the root cause, namely that my downstairs neighbors are farming pigeons. The problem is mitigated by the coming winter months, which will make the air conditioner unnecessary.

I had thought I might avoid surprises by choosing to rent in a neighborhood with easy assess to universities and the financial district. The trouble with new places is that old intuition and common sense don’t work anymore. My co-worker told me he was thinking of moving. He is considering paying six times market average to live in an upscale shopping district, which I had thought this was hideously wasteful, but now I wonder if paying that much allows one to avoid surprises.

Having finally gotten a good night’s rest, though, I am in good spirits.