Long update is long

I think it’s about time for another update. A real-ish one, if I can manage it.

Full time placement isn’t particularly easy. It’s just a pain to get up early (7ish) to go to work for eight hours without pay. On Monnights, Wednesnights and Frinights, I’ll generally add a four hour shift at Coles on to that. I don’t particularly mind it, I enjoy having money and the work is usually reasonably satisfying, but it leaves me very little time to do anything other than work. Tuesnights and Thursnights I’m at karate (having the time of my life I might add), and I’m working at least part of Saturday. So basically I have a few hours to myself throughout the week and a few hours on Saturmorn to do anything other than work, eat or sleep. And it does wear down on you. I don’t want to be one of those people who work 9-5 every day, waiting each day for the weekend until the weekend comes, only to dread the return of Monday and another week to crawl through. Full time work is just stupid. I’d much rather work part time- long hours I don’t mind, but not five days in a row two days rest. Mix it up a little more, make it easier to go shopping during weekdays and run errands. I’m still puzzled how people are expected to work full time as well as meet all their obligations when everything closes as soon as they stop work. Ah well.

Placement itself is… well, easy and difficult. Every fortnight, the students placed at various Centrelinks meet up for reflection on how things are going. And I’ve heard stories of people interviewing and doing all this research and contacting all these agencies and… I haven’t really done any of that. It makes me feel like I should be doing more, but I know that’s not fair on myself. Most days I follow my supervisor whenever he has an interview, I take notes, I occassionally offer a sentence or two in empathy or advice, and return to my desk to research the next interview or do readings. I’m currently trying to summarise an index on drug and alcohol use, compacting 80 pages to about 5. But it’s more than halfway through placement now and I feel as if I should be doing more, even though I don’t want to. I’ve let myself become comfortable with my role as a student, not having to do much real work. So yesterday I attempted to lead my first interview. I researched the customer (as they are called in Centrelink), checked out the relevant government legislation regarding what she wanted, called Homeswest to talk about priority housing, and went to see her.

Personally I think it went horribly. When we called her, Elsie walked one way and I walked the other and she stood in the middle not knowing who to follow. When we sat down, I didn’t ask her how she was, or talk about the storm outside, or even introduce myself. I asked her what I could help her with, and she explained what she needed: a letter of recommendation to get priority housing with Homeswest. I asked her what I could put in the letter, and she very concisely said she’d moved from Darwin to Perth with her two-year-old son to escape domestic violence and was now having difficulty living with her brother and his wife. She was highly very and very strong, showing clear thought and acknowledged emotion without giving into it. I sat there for about ten seconds trying to think of what next to say: she’d given me everything I needed and I didn’t know where I was supposed to go. As the seconds ticked on I became more and more tense as I panicked and struggled to fill in the blank. At this point I gave a desperate glance to my supervisor who took over and talked about how she was feeling regarding the violence, how her son was doing, clarifying the sort of issues she was having with her sister-in-law and why she had to leave, any other resources or family the woman had, any other information Homewest might find useful in the letter of support, going on and on and on about everything I could have asked.

So no I’m not ready to interview yet. That is to say, I feel like the spotlight is on my interviewing skills so I’m worried about what I’m doing rather than helping the person in front of me. In my panic I forget everything I’ve ever learned in uni. I kind of shut down after that, walking around like a zombie for the rest of the day, unable to think or work, just drowning in the extreme stress of my failure. But I know it’s not a failure, it’s experience. It’s going to be hard getting back on the horse on Monday, but I’ll try again eventually. There’s still time yet.

On a lighter, happier note, I sat in on a grading. Sensei recommended I miss this one and go for the next one so that I get a higher rank once I’ve learned more kata’s (patterns) and ippon (series of defensive moves to avoid punches). But watching, I learned a lot. I think I would have done well if I had known more kata’s- even the ippon the 1st kyu’s were doing I recognised. It’s dangerous territory talking about how good I am, but I believe with more knowledge, I could become a black belt within a few months. But as Elsie made me realise, striving for perfection limits a person: once they believe they’re perfect, they no longer feel a need to improve. So I’ll never be perfect (a disappointing realisation that undermines everything I do) but I can be the best I can be. I’m looking forward to training more, developing greater flow and controlling tenseness  in order to maximise the power of my techniques without sacrificing their fluidity. To draw energy from the ground as well as within and to become one with my opponent rather than focusing only on myself. As well as many other things, like having a strong core and being aware of my breathing. And after all, Shodan (I think) is the Japanese word for black belt, and means first rank. It is considered that once you have the foundations and earn a black belt, you are ready to begin learning true karate. I thought that was awesome.

And, because I’m not going for grading, I’m still a 10th kyu (the lowest rank, the white belt). This works well for me, because I just signed up for a tournament and I’m being enterred as a novice. I’m in the adult division but that’s all right, and I’m not sure if there are weight-classes, but… I should pretty much dominate ^^ I know it’s not very humble, and I’m actually hoping I get to spar with higher belts (even black belts), but I’m really excited about the prospect of testing myself against so many people in medium-contact sparring. That’s on Sunday October 18th and I can’t wait!

Just randomly, I also met a black belt whose choice of weapon is tonfa. I like him a lot. He reminds me of Bert in that he knows a lot of random but cool trivia, makes a lot of jokes and, while he can be awesome, he just wants to have fun and be cool.

Oh! I also found this video which, I believe, demonstrates why karate is superior to Taekwondo. You probably won’t find it interesting at all, but the more I analyse both styles, the more clearly I see the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iedxtg0N_KE

Also just randomly, I’m reconsidering studying karate after last week when a black belt pointed out to me I was focussing too much on power. I wanted the techniques to be as effective as they could, but my rigidity limited them. She demonstrated how "tough power" is not real power and how flowing is more effective. It made me want to leave karate to stop training with the wrong mindset and join taichi. Or, perhaps, aikido. But I’ll keep at it for now and try and integrate flow into training.

In terms of my love life, things are going beautifully. It’s so wonderful having a car to drive. I’ve visited Bethwyn numerous times on the way to various places, and even out of the blue. It’s been highly satisfying, though it’s starting to hurt more, not being able to see her every day. We kind of eased into the pattern of seeing each other once a week until that became bearable, but now that the frequency is increasing, all I want to do is call in sick every day and spend my life with her. I wonder if there will ever be enough time, or if I’ll forever want more. Buddhist philosophy tells me there’s something very wrong with this greedy, obsessive, attached way of living, but I just love her more than anything, and she makes me happier than anything ever has ever. Such is love, I suppose. Can’t wait for the holidays though ^^

Speaking of holidays, I’ve so many people to catch up with. To any of you reading this, please be patient, I’m strung for time as it is but will see you as soon as feasible.

All righty then, I’ll be off. Got a Resort to visit and many games to play ^^ Ja ne!

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2 thoughts on “Long update is long

  1. Bethwyn says:

    Yay calling in sick every day! Although I shouldn’t encourage that kind of behaviour… XDI love you John. <3

  2. […] all the reasons why I had agreed to withdraw. All I could remember was that from my experiences in Centrelink and at PICYS, I was doing amazingly well at Royal Perth.  I’d learned so so much, come so […]

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