Dork Parade

All today:

One of the guys at kung fu brought out his kung fu magazines to show people, leading to a discussion of the best places to buy these in town. I’m not that kind of kung fu student yet, but I’m sort of looking forward to it.

While I was out, my Squid Overlords shirt got me into a conversation about whether it’s possible to respect cephalopods for their intelligence without forgetting that they are ruthless killers. (That’s most of the attraction for me. My busmate was unconvinced.)

When I got home, I found Galen barricaded into the office with a friend, 3 guitars and 25 pedals, three hours into a giant wank jam. Mark showed me where he had written JH on his wah pedal in glow paint in high school. I thought he’d bought it second hand from someone (Jeremiah Henderson, for example), but he had just wanted Jimi Hendrix’s initials on his pedal, and for them to glow in the black lit practice space he was using at the time.

Later tonight we’re going to see the music video Bex’s brother made for a Monsieur Guy track— hopefully there can be some film geekery before the night is through. All I need to make this day complete is to listen to folk rock on the living room floor, and practice drawing typographic grids or something. And for my comic books to arrive in the mail. And I guess I should knit something using a technique I have to look up in a book. This might not happen after all. But it’s good to have goals.

Granny’s destiny: to live until the invention of shredders.

On Monday I helped my granny with her semi-annual paperwork confusion chores. The goal is just to replace outdated investment statements with the latest round and file it all away, but it is about the most spectacular display of granny management I’m ever required to produce. It’s guaranteed hilarity, paranoia, and a clear view to the inner workings of gran, twice a year.

I need to catalog a few things about the 2nd quarter 2005 edition.


(Unexpectedly produced by granny, from a Girl Guide Cookie caselot box1, handles tied together with old blue yarn, for me to shred2.)

  • Gas bills from 1995 on, from companies that no longer exist3
  • Eaton’s4 account statements from the nineties
  • A notebook with handwritten household bookkeeping from 1978 – 19855
  • Monthly credit card statements from 1998 – 2000, pinned to receipts with dress pins6
  • Blank airmiles card offers
  • Half a page of grampa’s income tax assessment from 1997
  • Such quantities of bank statements that we had to stop because the poor household-rated shredder started to smoke.


1 Depression-era reuse of household waste. Noble, yet absurd. See also: wrapping leftover food in the inner bags of cereal or cracker packages, storing legal documents in marketing folders that came in junk mail.

2 Granny has technology at her house, but I have to make it go. You probably guessed. I like calling her house and getting myself on the answering machine.

3 Granny is a world champion worrier. Leaves no stone unturned.

4 Granny is patriotic. We had a small conversation about the demise of Eaton’s. I actually got a little sad, thinking about the role of the T. Eaton Company in The Hockey Sweater.

5 Granny’s house is one of those breeding spots for history. No matter how many times we empty her deep freeze, there are always packages marked “Blueberries ’86” or “Quince ’91.” I wonder where the rest of these notebooks are hiding.

6 More determined cross-purposing of household objects. Also, comprehensive lack of normal stationery supplies. Only giant scissors, only giant paper clips, etc.

Memo to self

Pints at 4pm on a Thursday: more often.

Especially in the sunshine. (For once, I have been really taking advantage of the weather this summer. Having a tan makes my future wrinkle locations more obvious. Welcome, baby eye crinkles.)

Wing Chun for cowards

At Kung Fu class tonight I was forced to conclude that I really am a pacifist. Or at least a coward. Even if someone were trying to rape me or murder my baby or perpetrate some other excusable motivation for self-defense bordering on vengence, I can’t imagine actually hurting anyone on purpose.

Skipping all ethical discussions for the moment, this makes studying a martial art really weird. As you’d expect, none of the instructors gives the impression of violence, just power, and the focus of the classes is always on defense and response, rather than attacks or abuse. And it’s all fascinating and efficient and really cool, and has lots of side benefits for mind and body.

But it’s still absurd to me, even in this responsible context, to learn how to elbow somebody repeatedly in the face and then knock them out with a blow to the back of the neck. Wing Chun is all about overkill; this kind of exercise comes up a lot.

I think I’m happy that I don’t actually want to punch anyone in the face, ever. My concern is only with how to stay motivated to kick hard and train my muscles to respond to any opportunity to break an attacker’s elbow. Because I do want to get good at this, for some reason. I’d rather learn Kung Fu than soccer or distance running or whatever.

Actually, I have a second concern, too: to stop laughing awkwardly whenever I realize what we’re about to learn, and stop needing to give my partners little pats to reassure myself that we’re cool. The “I’m not actually trying to hurt you” disclaimer is supposed to be covered when we bow to each other at the start, and I’d like to get into that “we have an understanding” mindset. But I can’t settle on an understanding. Everything we do in class sets off major cognitive dissonance in my mind: “Why would I ever even pretend to do this to someone?” vs. “This is so awesome!”

My bow/disclaimer needs to include something about how I’m about to enter a strange altered state induced by my rich inner life.