an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Monday, January 3, 2005

Can't believe it:

I'm teaching two classes, 28 students, and somehow not only do I have a TA this term for Beginning Poetry Writing, but today one of my advisees, a wonderful hell-smart reliable kid and a McNair Fellow, asked me if I could put her to work as a research assistant, up to ten hours a week. McNair will pay for it--she gets work study. Ten hours a week? The departmental student assistant works ten hours a week for the eight of us. Can you say Xerox copying, friend? And interlibrary loan? She even offered to write synopses of articles for me. Oh, I've got plenty on my plate, but I've not learned to delegate without creating more work for myself, so this is going to take some imaginative thinking. But the gods do love me. The suffering and poetry course in the spring is not yet fully researched and I've been worrying about how to get that shit done before leaping into the teaching. I have a bibliography to get her started and a few of Freud's essays to locate. And she's taking that course in the spring, too, so she's excited about knowing as much as I do. Helleeyouya. I can almost breathe again.

First night back at the do jang after nearly two months. I did practice over the break (nak bub mostly with Trystan, who calls it "tuck and roll" from his days at Tumbles, though damn if I don't do a damned good fall now), but I've forgotten some of the details of ki cho hyung, which is an art of detail, fluidity, dance, and I'd only learned 1-4 before I left. Five and six looked impossibly confusing and physically unattainable tonight. Six: double an da ri: hah. I'll be a white belt forever. Ki bohn soo, though, is the real challenge. It requires engaging with a partner, learning to identify the pressure points in another person's forearm, hand, neck, and making someone surrender to her physical vulnerabilities--the wrist snap, the turned elbow, the swept knee. You train to force someone to yield up his center, of gravity, of certainty, to his appendages: margin over center: fall or I will break your wrist. There are 15 techniques to learn for the yellow belt. I have a sloppy three I barely claim. I am not lazy, nor disinterested, but afraid of inflicting pain--of understanding how to use it--and until tonight I think I didn't see that ki bohn soo requires all the attention of a lover in love. Pleasure or pain, it is the same responsiveness to responsiveness, and delicate, and artful. Whittle me torturer, no. But I see my partner won't respect me if I don't learn to apply the right pressure. --Still, after being gone for so long, and after making so little progress, the school welcomes me back and works me hard along with the others. Kwan Jang Nim announced that he would take it easy on us tonight since so many of us had been away for the winter break, but an easy night with him is still a shitload of pushups, situps, crunches, squats, kicks, horse-stance punches, lower, lower, thank you sir, and always more of it just as you think you can't do more. I walk into the do jang wanting to walk back out and walk out wanting to walk back in, fear to triumph, every time. Tonight, after two months of practicing round-house kicks at home, I did them consistently and nearly balanced, and without putting that back foot down before returning to stance. And the real glory here is that I left the office at four-thirty, hell or high water, so I could do it.

Ted got his brown belt while I was gone, got two black eyes and a busted lip during the test, had knee surgery last Monday, came back that Wednesday, and showed up tonight with enough enthusiasm to help his wife Cynthia through her first night back in a year. She's a white belt too. Guess us white belts are still loveable.

My body's telling me now how it'll feel tomorrow morning. Oh lowly white belt, I am not worthy.

"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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