the original kStyle blog.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Questionnaire

1. Give us an example of the usual drudgery/routine that is your work.

2. Lest we now think your employment intolerable, give us an example of something strange that happened recently at work.

3. Are you involved in a self-, home-, or other-improvement project lately? What is it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The World

Here are the places I've been:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Hopefully, this time next year, it will look like this:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

States I Have Graced with my Presence

Oh, it's not quite as much as I'd hoped. I feel badly for the Midwest, never having known me.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday Questionnaire
costumes, uniforms, and second skins

1. Have you belonged to any group that identifies with wearing special colors? What are their symbolism?

2. What's your favorite comfy outfit for kickin' around?

3. How do people dress in your workplace?

Bonus: Where do socks go when they run away?

Shiatsu Stuffs

Saturday I got The Call: The first stranger-client, a recipient of one of the gym massage-chair demos. I booked her for 9:30 the next day, and upon hanging up the phone, determined that I was a fraud and charlatan and undertrained. G reminded me that I've put in more hours of training than an airline pilot. I'm not sure that made me feel better about shiatsu so much as worse about aviation, but it made me grin nonetheless.

The next morning, after a hard night of birthday bowling (candlepin, natch), I donned my jammy-like shiatsu clothes, armed myself with disinfected glass cups and extra intake forms (just in case), and headed for the office. As soon as I stepped inside, the dreamy scent of my massage room put me at ease. I jumped up-and-down thrice, saying out loud, "God, I LOVE my office!" (I'm the only practitioner there on Sundays.) The session went great, and my new client--an amazing person whose lifestory I was honored to hear--is considering signing up for the five-session discount pack.

After the session I reversed my setup with the help of G and our visiting friend J, stripping the sheets off my futon, rolling the futon up and stashing it in the closet, and returning the hulking massage table to its usual station in my subletted room. I switched off all the lights and carefully turned the heat down to 60. On my way out, I grabbed the reflexologist's card, wondering if a woman whimsical enough to put glittery gold footprints on a business card would be up for a trade. (Today I called her, chatted with a kindred spirit, and arranged to meet her next Sunday. Ah, an extra benefit of shiatsu training: free bodywork for free bodywork.)

Then G, J, and I had a lovely celebratory brunch.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Larry has moved house!

Check out the shiny new digs of superblog Revision 99. Be sure to bring a candle or some wine.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Today, I Am Older

This is going to be a good year. I can smell it.

Happy Birthday, kStyle

Wishing a very happy day and year to our intrepid hostess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Ann! Rock on, old lady. ;)

V-Day Writing Assignment

I'm helplessly in love with capoeira, but I know I'm never going to get good at it, never truly good. It's the same feeling as falling for a person who's out of my league. Let's console each other with such stories.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Questionnaire
Teddy bear holding a heart Edition

1. Let's get right to it: any Valentine's Day plans?

2. In elementary school, did you give valentines to everyone in the class, or only to the kids you liked?

3. If you are single, do you find the holiday nauseating? If you are not single, do you find it more nauseating or less nauseating than you did when you were?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Discussion Question

What's so "sport" about luge?

A Dozen Kinds of Ass-Kicking

Capoeira class kicked my ass. At one point, I thought I wouldn't survive the full two hours. I thought my heart would literally explode inside my chest. But I did survive, with the guidance of a young woman who's been studying the art for 13 years. Afterwards, the mestre had me purchase proper capoeira clothes--the requisite yellow tee shirt and white pants. (Pants didn't fit when I got them home...Shirt was perfect.) As I wrote a check in wobbly, weak hand, he assessed my potential: I can see that you're strong (?!) and it helps that you've taken some capoeira before. Give me three months and I will make you good. Although I doubted the possibility of that--seeing as how I couldn't even make it through the whole warm up--his confidence boosted me.

I chatted with a man from Brazil who spoke no English. He told me he usually plays the acrobatic, battle-oriented Regional style. I asked him his name, and after telling me his real name, he told me his capoeira name*: Perigoso. Ai, tenho medo! I replied. He was surprised I spoke Portuguese, and took to teasing me about my Lisboeta accent: "Shhh shhhh shhhh," he said, imitating the way the Portuguese say the letter s.

*Capoeira nicknames are a Regional, but not an Angola, tradition. Thank the gods--I can only imagine that after that class, I'd be given the nickname vaca or something.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wednesday Writing Assignment: Satire

Go ahead, do an impression of someone you work with. We won't tell.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I looked up and contacted the wonderful gal who first taught me Capoeira to say hello and tell her I'd found myself back in the art. And she invited me to Brazil for the annual Capoeira event with Mestre Lua next January.

Twist my arm.

*squeals of excitement*

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday Questionnaire
All Work and No Play Edition

1. What is your ideal just-after-work's-over activity?

2. If you had tomorrow off, what would you do with your day? (Note: if you actually do have tomorrow off, kindly keep it to yourself.)

3. Name something that decorates your office or workspace, to make you feel more at home.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

E hora, e hora, Camara

When I was in the Southwest, I used to play Capoeira Angola. At the time, I loved Capoeira more than just about anything. I even bought a berimbau and practiced it every day. I made a pact with myself never to live anywhere I couldn't learn Capoeira.

Once I left Desert City, I lived in California for a while. I tried a Capoeira
class, but it was a much more aggressive, less spiritual style (though not Regional), and I didn't like it. One time, out for a walk, I came across people practicing Capoeira in the park. I asked to join in. They let me, and it quickly became clear that (despite my low skill level) I was more experienced than the students. The teacher stepped in and basically used the chance to knock me over with a well-placed head butt, and then they all left the park without saying goodbye. As they walked away, I overheard the teacher saying that Capoeira was invented by black slaves & white people shouldn't do it.

This left a bad taste in my mouth. I suspected that the happy, communal Capoeira I'd been taught was a fluke.

When I came back East a month later, I initially looked for Capoeira classes, but I couldn't find any. I was living in a small town at the time, and finally I learned there were classes in the city, but it was quite a drive away. Moreover, after my experiences in Cali, I felt less like playing anyway. I theorized that my life in Desert City had been a little empty, and so I'd become more attached to Capoeira than I would have otherwise.

Since then almost 6 years have passed, during which the bow from my berimbau moved in with my parents while I moved, moved again, worked, moved, fell in love, and studied shiatsu. (The shaker and gourd traveled with me.) I pretty much forgot about Capoeira. In October, as my mom revved up her empty nest clear-out and re-decorate, she called to ask me, yet again, when I would take my instrument off their hands. She suggested I hang it on the wall in my practice, which despite her good intentions seemed like absolutely the wrong thing to do with it.

Knowing that the lovely berimbau should be used & enjoyed, I did some research online, and emailed a Brazilian cultural organization to ask if they might want it. Someone who shares my last name replied, asking me to bring it by sometime so he could see it.

I grew busy again, in the last semester of shiatsu studies, and forgot about it. Over the holidays, I retrieved the bow from my parents' house. I called the Mestre who shares my last name this week and asked when I might come by to give him the berimbau. He said to come by a certain dance center at 3 on Saturday, when he'd be teaching Capoeira. This worked out perfectly, because I had tai chi class in the same neighborhood as the Dance Center from 12:15-1:30, and then I was meeting my friend K. for lunch.

Over lunch in a dark pub playing the Manchester United game for an enthusiastic crowd of Brits (GOD I love soccer!!), I realized how perfect it was that K, a friend from my Desert City days, would go with me to return the berimbau. I was feeling foolishly reluctant to give it away, though. When I'd packed up my berimbau that morning, reuniting the bow with shaker and gourd, it seemed to possess a magic as a unit. I shook it off and reminded myself that that chapter was closed, and that I was never good, anyway.

After eating, K and I walked to my car for the berimbau. As we approached the garage, there, on the other side of the road, the Mestre was carrying HIS berimbau and a drum to the Dance Center. I ran across the street and introduced myself. He told me where the D.C. was and said he'd see me there shortly.

As we walked upstairs in the D.C., past the hiphop class having silly fun, I started to hear Capoeira music--live Capoeira music. And something opened up in me, that same thing (whatever it is) that Capoeira music used to open up. My heart started pounding as we climbed the stairs and got closer to it.

The mestre was happy to see me. He inspected the berimbau and said,
"This is a good berimbau. Where did you get it?"

"It's from Brazil. I ordered it online."

"I can tell it's very, very good because of the gourd. Why don't you do Capoeira anymore?"

"I don't have time."

"You make time."

"I never could walk on my hands."

"I teach a very traditional style. You don't have to. I can take this
berimbau from you, but then you'll need to buy a new one."

Something clicked.
"I'll see you next week," I said, "But where do I get a berimbau string?"

"Don't worry about it. I'll bring you one."

It was the weirdest experience. You know those stories you hear, wherein
someone is reading a meditation book in the esoteric bookstore, and then
the Zen master/Taoist priest/shaman walks in and says, "Come with me. You meditate now. Where the hell have you been? Took you long enough to get here." It felt like that.

But...we'll see how it goes next week, eh?

PS He's a real mestre, which is very rare. I've never met one.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


New Agers are wont to speak of “good energy/qi” and “bad energy/qi”, as well as “low-level energy,” as opposed and inferior to “high-level energy”.

Energy is neutral. Energy is just energy; it’s neither good nor bad. Sometimes it’s misplaced, stuck, or lacking, which causes imbalance, disharmony, ill health, but it’s never bad per se. Likewise, some energy is more yin (cool, slow, feminine, soft, dark) and some is more yang (warm, fast, masculine, hard, light), but yin doesn’t mean “low-energy” or inferior, nor does yang mean “high-energy” or superior (except literally, where yin has to do with the earth and the lower parts of the body and yang with the sky and the higher parts of the body). Yin & yang are both necessary. Neither is better than the other—they coarise and coexist, and only occur in relation to each other. Also, yang always contains yin & vice-versa. And they’re mutually consumptive, but we’re veering from the point now. Which is, essentially: Yin deficiency causes as much trouble as yang deficiency.

So when someone tells you that shoes*, dairy, or New England winters are “low-energy”, s/he is mistaken—they are merely more yin and less yang than hats, meat, or Florida winters. (You would no sooner feed cheese to someone lacking yang than you would lamb to someone lacking yin. The medicine must fit the cause.) Likewise, if someone wearing a big ole crystal pendant says that x, y, or z has “bad energy”, please correct her for me. It might have improper energy for the context, but it’s not bad in the proper context.

*Real example from an otherwise pretty good feng shui book I’m reading

Ay Ay Ay

It's the worst time of the month in the worst time of the year, and I'm just miserable.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wednesday Writing Assignment

As I've completed my formal shiatsu studies (as if one ever completes learning about such a thing) and begun building a practice, I've found myself drawn to feng shui, another branch of the Asian energetic arts, the art of properly arranging space. And so, in my spare moments between work, shiatsu duties, cooking, and sleep, I've begun reading about feng shui and clearing out a little clutter every day.

In that self-starting spirit, please tell us about something you've been learning on your own--why you're studying it, what you get from it, or maybe some basic pointers for the rest of us.