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Archive for July, 2012

Haikuesday 07.31.12

Things are scary now,

but I’ll keep my eyes open

or I’ll miss what’s next.

Categories: poetry Tags: , , ,

Scattered puzzle pieces.

July 28, 2012 2 comments

I wish you didn’t always come to me as a ghost,

leaving words and actions behind like scattered puzzle pieces

while I scramble to fit them together,

always unsuccessfully,

since you go before I find the meaning.

Instead,

I wish you were someone whose face I could put in a frame

and glance upon fondly out of the corner of my eye,

smiling as I go from one room to the next.

Categories: poetry

Haikuesday 07.24.12

I’m moving next week.

Where are the magical elves

to pack up my things?

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Sunday funday.

Sunday is my favorite judo day. It’s been my favorite since I started practicing again three years ago. Back then, Sunday was typically a small group, but it tended to be the people I liked training with most. Since there were so few of us, our coaches usually would treat us by showing a technique that was reserved in their arsenal for special occasions, or they would let us decide as a class what we’d like to do. My coach liked to say that the Sunday people were getting a leg up on everyone who didn’t come in to train on the weekends.

I don’t hate on people that skip Sundays. There was a huge chunk of my life where I would never set an alarm on a Sunday morning to engage in physical activity activities for two hours. I almost think it’s easier to train during the week; heading to practice seems like an extension of the work day. You’re already busy, so what’s one more thing? During the weekend, though, there are so many things you could do besides go train. Like sleep late. Or go to brunch with your friends. Or spend time with your family. Or any number of activities that don’t include falling a lot.

Maybe that’s why I like Sundays so much. I feel like going to practice Sunday morning is 100% my choice. I’m not on auto pilot mode like I am during the structured work week, so going to judo that day is something I really want to do. And maybe that’s why Sunday’s class always ends up feeling a little special.

Categories: Judo Tags: , ,

Cuba: “No es facil.”

July 21, 2012 11 comments

A couple of months ago, all I could do was talk about my upcoming study abroad trip to Cuba. I was head over heals with the thought that I was going to Cuba to learn about education and social welfare policy, and have the chance to conduct my own ethnographic study. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t shut up about it. Now, however, I don’t want to talk about Cuba at all. Every time someone asks me, “How was Cuba?” I cringe, grind my teeth, and sigh deeply.

There’s an appropriate cliche out there about my experience traveling to Cuba. It might be, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, but I don’t think that’s quite right. See, my trip to Cuba was in many ways one big, frustrating lesson in disappointment. In a nutshell, less than 24 hours before my classmates and I were to board our flight to Miami, where we would fly out to Havana, we learned that our trip had been cut short to two weeks, would cost the same as it would for one month, and was totally restructured as a tourist packaged trip, complete with a tour bus and tour guide. We were not permitted to rent rooms in people’s homes; instead, we had to stay in a hotel. As students with plans of ethnographic research, staying a hotel and being a part of a packaged tour exaggerated the line between us and the community. In two weeks, we would have inadequate time to make contacts and conduct field work.

My classmates and I were angry and speechless. As nerdy Penn students, we really wanted to conduct research. Of course, we wanted to have some fun, but we signed up for a class, not a vacation. You can go to a bunch of other little islands for the tourist experience. Since the students in the program are in the field of either social work or education, we were hoping to experience what life is like in a country whose sociopolitical structure is so different than ours to see how they address social problems. Sitting on a tour bus for a third of the day and staying at hotel severely limited what we could experience.

I will not say that my two weeks in Cuba were entirely negative. I got enough of a glimpse of Cuba to leave with more questions than I before I arrived. My classmates and I met with educators, health care professionals, community organizers, and artists. As a bonus, my classmates and I connected so well. Out of the frustration of the conditions surrounding our departure and the moments of fun we could steal together, I think we walked away feeling like we’d made some real friends.

Presently, I still feel embarrassed and irritated reveal to people that my Cuba trip turned into a joke, in many respects.  I believe I do well in expecting the unexpected, but to me, this was just too far removed from what was proposed to me and my classmates. I know I’m embarrassed because I hyped it up so much and placed so much value on it in the context of my academic career, and I just wanted the chance to have a completely unique experience. I know at heart that within those two weeks, I got to see and do things that so many people in the U.S. will never get to see or do. And I’m certainly grateful for that. I’m not going to forget those two weeks. It will just take some time to let go of feeling cheated and discover that I learned more than what I can see right now.

Minor details.

July 20, 2012 1 comment

When maintenance came,

only then did I see all

the bras on the floor.

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Haikuesday 07.17.12

Last night, after all

the falls, judo felt so much

like acupuncture.

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