Reflections on 2016

2016 has been a bad big year for me. (That was a genuine typo, or perhaps a Freudian slip. I’m very tired.) Lots of people (myself included) have complained about 2016 as the year of Trump and Celebrity Deaths. And lots of people have urged these not to become the theme of the year: to choose to see love instead of fear, hope instead of despair. Lots of things have happened in 2016, and for me personally, and in many significant ways it’s been the most eventful year of my life.

Peppermint (The Muffinthief) Silvermane had just come into our lives, and I learned what it meant to be a responsible pet owner for the first time ever. I mean, I knew all the theory, I’d just never had enough responsibility to care for the welfare of another sentient being (apart from poor Lyota). It was a great challenge for me not to despair when she toileted all over Beth’s favourite rug and our bags, causing my black belt to reek of cat pee. I had never been so hurt and so angry in all my life, (except perhaps for that time the Sorting Hat believed I might be in Slytherin), and I really did consider giving her away again. My relationship with Peppermint is a work in progress, and I’m coming to terms with her infrequent levels of affection and her dislike for being picked up. We’re living pretty harmoniously at the moment.

I got married, too! A very big event indeed. So much organising, and so much money! Still, apart from the blur of congratulations and the extensive photo shoot, I still remember how beautiful my bride looked and how wonderful it was to spend the day in the company of friends and family.

Our second trip to Japan was incredible, and brought many new and treasured memories. Among my happiest moments were putting on samurai armour and walking the streets of Miyajima, grilled dango at Mt Inari, Anita and all her antics, and most of all HogwartsVisiting South Korea for the first time was quite an adventure in itself, and I’m very grateful to have formed the memory of Hot 6 on a Starcrafty night.

While I hate to talk about work, I must admit it was a huge year for my career as well. I started working on a new mental health project in my organisation, one that had some very rocky moments. It was, and is, a stressful and rewarding part of my life. I’ve learned so much professionally and personally, the growth I’ve undergone in my practice this year is quite immeasurable. (We also won the Outstanding Team and Team of the Year awards!)

I’ve done three chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) performances this year, mainly o-temae, and acquired enough implements to perform ryakubon (a portable tea ceremony using a platter) and chabako (a tea ceremony set to take on picnics). To my great sadness, my teacher has returned to Japan (though she will visit in the following months) and we shared a beautiful chaji (formal, themed tea ceremony including a kaiseki – a special meal and sake).

In my study of martial arts, I’ve undertaken some extra duties for the school as well. I clean and do extra training after every class, and it’s been wonderfully gratifying transforming the building week by week, item by item. As I said to another student recently, if there’s a piece of paper in the building I know what it says. It’s been especially rewarding for me to take the initiative and buy, clean and organise things for the benefit of the dojo, talk to the neighbouring shops to reestablish good relations, decorate for the holidays and create beautiful, open spaces so the building can breathe. I’ve been teaching more, too. I’ve probably taken about a dozen classes in the school, as well as teaching taiji to a group of Mum’s on a carer’s retreat.

Beth and I moved out of our small townhouse and into a unit with three bedrooms. Moving house is always a massive project, and it’s been fantastic having enough room to just spread out. I’ve got my study, a room of swords and computers, Beth’s got her den, full of herbs, books and crystals, we’ve both got a loungeroom that isn’t tucked under the stairs… It’s been a wonderful year for decluttering and refocussing.

 

Speaking of refocussing, I’ve actually got a few resolutions I’d like to make for the New Year. I’m going to try making them SMART (or at the very least, Specific and Measurable). They are:

  1. Watch The Appendices (Making of) The Lord of the Rings for half an hour every morning for a month, or until I’ve finished them all.
  2. Go for a run once a week for at least three months.
  3. Do weights once a week, preferably after every class at the Academy.
  4. Study Japanese for an hour at least once a fortnight. I’d love to say that I could do it every other day, but I don’t have a lot of desire to spend my extra energy on study outside of work and training!
  5. Be more mindful of food. This is a hard one to measure, but maybe

Welp, it’s looking like this year will be a good’un. Can’t believe the end of year holidays have passed by so quickly. Here’s hope, for a bright 2017.

10 000 views

10 000 views already! Seems like a milestone to come upon quite quickly. It feels like only a few months ago I posted my 1000th blog post (when in reality it’s been two and a half years). As I said in that post, at the height of my blog’s popularity I was averaging 200 views a month (between 5-14 a day), which frankly astounded me because I had never intended for anyone to read it except incidentally. Changing the name and url of my blog drastically cut down views because google still linked to my old url’s which no longer work, but since that change they’ve slowly built up to about 150 views a month.

And you know what my most popular post is? Outstandingly, by a huge margin, it’s my Katawa Shoujo: Shizune and Misha’s path. Why this one, and not any of the other excellent (better?) ones? No idea. Must be one of those situations where its popularity builds upon itself. I guess my blog is going to be known for my love of that game that made me a better person. (To be fair, I did put a lot of effort into those posts.)

To celebrate my 10 000th view, here’s the long-awaited sequel to my favourite search terms that people have typed into google to find their way here. (For the original lists, see here and here!)

  • “weald and orgasm videos”
  • “arrogant taekwondo instructors” and “arrogant oh do kwan”
  • “neaning of scalebtino” (This redirected someone to my blog on the Kinsey Scale. Probably not what they were looking for! XD)
  • “what does it mean when you dream calling xin?”
  • “how to weald the kung fu long staff” (I’m so touched someone thought that I would have any idea.)
  • “the tao, violence, logos 1”
  • “morrowind taoist monk build” (YES! Someone getting into Role Playing as much as I did!)
  • “skyrim astrid hot” (twice!)
  • “master moy lin shin drinking whiskey” (Oh dear XD)
  • katawa shoujo changed my life (me too buddy. Me too.)
  • wu-wei dao karate belts
  • female ninja iga ninja village
  • old tatami apartment tokyo
  • “what could you prefer in a life patnar looks , intelligence &weald”
  • “aunty dreem weald bathing photo”
  • weald class big vagiena
  • “weald.sex.big.ass” (How my blog turned into some kind of porn database is beyond me)

Rambling life update

It’s been a little while since I’ve just blogged because I felt like writing. I’ve been missing the part of myself that loves to write, and I haven’t been sure what to write about these past months. So I’m just going to write about everything. I’m aware that the internet is a place that takes things out of context, and I’m cautious of maybe some people taking stuff the wrong way, but I just need to get it out of me, free-association style.

 

Things at the dojo have been going well. I haven’t trained in much karate lately, though I’ve recently taken on the condition to be at all the taiji classes to help with instruction as needed (though I’ve only taught the odd class or two). I’ve also taken on the job of keeping the building clean and presentable, and it’s something I take great pride in. I seem to have boundless energy for the endless list of chores that come with polishing a place I love so much, and it’s strange for me to vacuum and sweep and scrub for hours whilst my own house slowly gets dustier and dustier. I love so much creating beautiful spaces, and handling each object in the dojo and finding a new place to put it that makes it shine.

 

I’ve been really into Non-Violent Communication lately. One of the side-effects of organising groups at work around a certain topic is that I research the shit out of it and put something together in a meaningful way to me. I’ve noticed in the past months that I’ve been much more aware of my feelings and needs, and that my confidence to talk about them and make requests to meet them has grown too. It’s been so wonderful for me that I’ve been trying to help those around me gain the same knowledge so they can practice it too, and I can’t help but wonder if people are getting sick of me riding around on my high horse telling them how important it is to verbalise needs.

 

I’ve been wondering about a lot of things lately, to be honest. My self-esteem seems to go up and down. One day I feel I’m one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, and that I’m growing into someone courageous, generous and loving. The next I feel like I’m upsetting everyone I meet and doing more harm than good.

 

Today is one of the latter days. I’m feeling worn down from all the things happening in my life lately. I performed chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) last weekend, and the practice leading up to that took up a lot of potential rest time. Incidentally, it was a really beautiful day, and we served tea to so many people and brought smiles to their faces and joy to their hearts. Or so I hope. It was exhausting, though, giving so much of myself so that the day would go well (and so that I could help sensei as a way of thanking her for the beautiful wedding gift of a chakago). With that and all the extra time I’ve put into being at the dojo, either to exercise, teach or clean, I’m feeling so run down. Flags have started popping up to alert me to the fact I am on the path of burnout.

 

Two weeks from now I’ll be in a new house, and that’s so exciting and so daunting. I still have piles of journals here from my old place two years and two moves ago that I haven’t picked up, and I’m starting to think I should just chuck them out. I kinda think it’s unrealistic that I’ll successfully pack up all my worldly belongings over the next week and a half whilst continuing to work and train as much as I do.

 

I think what I need most is a few days of not very much. Watching Daredevil on Netflix (I got Netflix, by the way. Can’t believe we’ve lived without it for so long.), playing games (Uncharted 2 next? Finishing Guild Wars 2’s personal/living story? I’ve been on such a roll lately, I’ve probably finished a dozen games in the past few months.), spending time with Beth. What I don’t need is to worry about what people want, to vacuum or pull over to change a tyre or to hold a door open because I fear being judged. I desperately crave to be selfish and “unproductive”, doing things just for the pleasure of doing them rather than because it would be “the best thing to do with my time”.

 

I’ve been seeing a new counsellor by the way, for probably eight months now. She’s so much more than I realised I wanted; intellectual, curious, compassionate. It makes for a safe place to explore myself, and to examine unhelpful beliefs and values. What I’m working on at the moment is my chronic lateness, my beliefs around productivity, my inability to relax when there are other people around and my subconscious fear of negative judgements from practically everyone I meet. It’s really nice to do be working on my own stuff again.

 

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got other stuff to explore, and I’ll do that privately. Hope you’ve all been well <3

Painballing

I may have discovered a hidden talent of mine. Yesterday I celebrated my last week as an unmarried man by gathering my close male friends and shooting them with projectiles that travelled at 329km/hour. I had only been paintballing three times before then, with some measure of success but nothing outstanding. However at Paintball Skirmish (pretty good prices and a good variety of games, even if some of them were only a minute long) I seemed to find my calling.

 

I daresay I was the best player on the day: I usually shot three or four people per match, and I only got eliminated thrice in the ten games. I think my surprising success was due to an innate tactical knowledge, the ability to adjust strategies on the fly, and general skill with the paintball gun.

 

My previous experience had taught me that the trick to paintballing was to move frequently and be where the enemy did not expect you to be. The other 27 players largely found some cover, hunkered down and leaned out of cover to take pot shots at each other until someone got hit. Because headshots didn’t count in Paintball Skirmish, I felt safe to poke my head above a barricade and just survey the situation without fear of being eliminated. When I saw the opposition hide, I would move when they weren’t looking and catch them off guard.

 

Through this strategy, I was able to get well under the three meters required to force a surrender by charging around whatever they were taking cover behind and yelling “SURRENDER!” at them while shoving a gun in their face. (The last two of these was because I had run out of ammo and figured it would be more fun than waiting for the game to end.) While it was risky to be standing up exposed to the opposition team, waiting for the other person to throw their hand up and leave the field, no one shot me while I did it. I think the helmets of the other players (and the stress of the game) gave them tunnel vision, and they didn’t notice me taking out their team mates until I was in their face as well.

 

I found it very easy to use the paintball guns as well. Other people commented that the balls didn’t fly perfectly straight, and that it was hard to hit a target even if you were aiming right at it. For some reason it didn’t bother me the same way: I would take one shot at a target, adjust it based on that ball’s trajectory, and then usually hit the target with maybe one or two additional correcting shots. While they were haphazard, there was a general sense of direction, and I was even able to factor drop into my shots and fire over targets to hit people hiding behind them. It was easy to shoot one-handed as well, leaning my gun out of cover and then taking a few well-placed shots at targets. Through this skill, as well as moving from cover to cover, I single-handedly hit all six of the targets the fortress was attempting to defend.

 

I sucked a little more in the last few games, getting hit in the leg while behind cover. Not really sure how it happened, but kudos to whoever nailed me. The very last round where everyone was told to just get in there and discharge all their remaining ammunition at each other sucked royally. Because there were no longer any teams, there was nowhere safe to hide: I was constantly flanked, and the referee starting the game while I was standing in the middle of the field certainly didn’t help my cause. It was from this round that I acquired all my of bruises, one of which raised a lump on the back of my head. It was fun, but in the future I think I’ll avoid being shot from all sides.

 

Overall, definitely something I’d love to do again and see if I can improve on my tactical practice and skill. I’d like to try paintballing where headshots count (because it makes it riskier to survey the field) and see what difference it makes!

My 2002 Diary

Going through my childhood diaries has turned out to be more emotional than I anticipated. I mean, I always knew they got me down, though I hadn’t quite anticipated how much they’d affect me. Immersing myself in their contents for more than a few minutes at a time brings me right back to the way I felt when I was writing them, and that’s been a bit difficult to overcome. I’ll have to be more selective about which entries to read fully, which to gloss over and which to skip. As Bethwyn reminded me last night, “I am not that person. I am me.” Anyway, here are the highlights of my journal as an 11-year-old!

***

My brother and I bought our diaries at the same time, and he excitedly wrote a “fact” on the first day of each month. One of them was “As a stunt, a man ate a whole heap of lacky bands and then fell off a building. The lacky bands in his stomach made him bounce off the ground.” Classic creative genius.

***

Much of what I wrote was about the troubled relationship with my brother. He was cruel and punishing in those days, and yet I had so many good memories with him as well. For instance, he kept me indebted to him through an ingenious sticker system where I bought expensive stickers and then put them together in various combinations for modest prizes. He also sold me some tags which prevented him from opening doors, touching items and seeing or remembering things. (They were expensive, and didn’t seem particularly effective.)

***

As in my 2001 diary, I was very dramatic. For instance, I referred to a small patch of grass on the oval as “The Place that Evil Cannot Go”. Sapo was still among my closest friends (although I renamed him “Desdemona” from the Cairo Jim books), and I named Katrina my shorm (the person who I would trust with my life if they asked me for it) before I realised it was stupid. I swung wildly between hating and loving my closest friends.

***

I was still obsessed with finding someone to love romantically. In the end, I concluded I didn’t love anyone at school, not even Jessica Carroll my best friend who I courted for most of the year. In fact, she got so sick of my attention that she invented a friend named Melanie White, who she convinced me used to be in love with me and I’d forgotten all about her. I spent much of the year trying to get more details about Melanie, gathering information rigorously (including a phone call where I spoke to someone who sounded suspiciously like Jess putting on a voice). In hindsight, I’m pretty sure Jess was just trying to deflect my affections but was in too deep to back out of the complex spirals of lies she had to spin to keep me from harassing her.

***

Speaking of imaginary friends, I created an imaginary sister named Sarah, and an imaginary girlfriend named Velvet Dark (named from my favourite game at the time). I even wrote an elaborate story about how I reluctantly used violence to deter a bunch of bullies and win Velvet’s affection on her first day of school.

***

It was very important to me to keep announcing how bored I was, even though I was having fun.

***

I was pretty hardcore religious back then as well. I donated like 80% of my pocket money to charity, always took great pains not to use the Lord’s name in vain, and prayed the rosary just for the pleasure of it. When Jessica offered to teach me how to use her magical powers (healing, telekinesis, x-ray vision, telepathy, granting people speed and strength, making people nicer, powers of death and powers of resurrection), I refused them for myself because I considered it unholy black magic, even though they sounded really super awesome. I was obsessed with not sinning and taking God very seriously.

***

That made it really awkward to explore my emerging sexuality, and I felt really, really awful about becoming a sexual person.

 

***

I was also strangely obsessed with coming up with nicknames for Katrina.

***

After watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and playing craploads of Perfect Dark, I created an amazing game where I got points for shooting cars, cyclists and pedestrians while my Mum drove me places. I started off with my “Agent Peace” (sedatives) character, and when I earned 5000 points I would earn enough to “genetically transform” into Agent Destructo (explosives), Agent Blast (magnums), Agent Shocker (electricity and lasers), and even the legendary Agent Dark (pistols, machine guns, shotguns, blowdarts, radioactive grenades, crossbows and lightsabers). In each case I’d have a variety of different weapons and ammunition strapped to my body and clothes – I knew where each gun was, how many bullets it had in the magazine and how many spare magazines I was carrying for each. As we were driving around, my Mum would glance over and see my hands working furiously, spinning imaginary guns as I shot at passersby.

***

I invented a “trademark”, what I now call my emblem. Well to be fair I invented a few, though this one is actually meaningful and appeared on 30/05/02 in its earliest form. It’s a symbol I still use to this day.

Xin

***

I was really obsessed with privacy as I started my journey through puberty. I considered it the most heinous crime to have my privacy violated, and it happened surprisingly often as my friends shared secrets I told them and my brother punished me by going through my stuff. I think it was the start of me casting out on my own, believing that I could only trust myself and that if I just had enough strength I wouldn’t need other people. Even then I had begun to think about suicide. Sad and dark times were ahead.

***

Things weren’t all bad though. In one entry, I randomly wrote the following:
“I have incredible mental powers. Most people would have seen a psichiatrist by now, but not me. I can resist and smile very easily.”
I was a resilient young man, determined to face the world with a smile on my face, to forgive and to love in spite of my pain.

 

Reading these diaries has been an interesting experience for me. I’m not sure how I’ll go reading the next year, the worst of them. I think it will be elucidating and worth the effort though, so look out for that in the future. Now to go shake off all this old stuff that’s come back up.

My Year in Review

2015 has been a big year for me, probably the biggest of my young life. I’m not normally one to expound on what I’ve achieved, although I’m going to make an exception and have a closer look at someone of the big changes in my life this year.

 

  • I attained my black belt in the system of Wu-wei Dao, taught by the Academy of Traditional Fighting Arts. I feel like I’ve always been a black belt, that I’ve tried to act like one since the first time I ever stepped into a training hall, and I think I’m growing into it every day. I still have a lot of work to do on facing my fears and being willing to push myself, and I’m sure all of that will come in the New Year.
  • I got my first full-time job as a social worker. Man, after all the shame of having a degree that I wasn’t using and enjoying the freedom of working casually, I finally knuckled down to a 9-5, Mon-Fri social work job. It wasn’t without its problems, though it lead me to where I am now, and that’s not so bad at all because:
  • I won an award for Employee of the Year, despite only being with the organisation since January, and despite senior workers and managers being nominated with me. I guess I am pretty good at this work, though it’s still a little hard for me to accept that.
  • I moved out of my parent’s house. I probably stayed too long, being mothered and having everything done for me. When I first got that full-time job I moved out as soon as I could, and the freedom was well worth the cost of the rent. I did a lot of learning about what sort of disciplined lifestyle I enjoyed, and also its hollowness. I lived by myself and only for myself (despite having two housemates – I barely saw them because I kept myself so busy), and while I enjoyed it immensely, I’ve also learned not to be so self-centred.
  • Getting a place with Bethwyn has really helped with that. It has been so, so special having a space to shape however we’ve wanted. I loved buying our own washing machine, and filling the cupboard with our own mugs. I’ve loved setting up the study and sharing a bed every night. I’ve loved all the time I’ve spent with Beth, all the kisses goodbye in the morning and all the cuddles welcome home in the evenings. I’ve never felt so homely about anywhere in the world, and I am so grateful for this den of comfort.
  • Getting a cat! Holy crap guys, meet Peppermint Silvermane!11037013_10156411565550220_2416657079313269018_n
    I guess I haven’t really mentioned her because she’s not on my mind that often any more. She mostly ignores me and spends much of the day hiding. Well, that’s a tad unfair: she’s about 50-50 now in terms of bolting when I approach, and she’s spending more time wandering around and less time under the bed. So far she is not the cuddly lapcat I was hoping for, though when we first got her from Cat Haven (via Petbarn) I got the sense that it would take her a while to open up and that when she did it would be so worth the wait. I still have that sense, though I’m a little impatient for it!
  • I participated in my school’s 30th Anniversary (see my teacher’s blog post about it here) and am really proud of how polished my performances were. It was a wonderful motivator to train hard, and I hope everyone who came enjoyed it!
  • I also performed a simple Japanese tea ceremony (ryakubon) at Melville Matsuri festival! I shook like a leaf, and I might have rushed it, but it was tremendous fun learning a new set of skills in an elegant and highly structured art. Just my cup of tea.
  • I crafted my own set of Ascended Gear in Guild Wars 2. It looks hideous, and the stat increase is negligible, but by jove I did it. During the Heart of Thorns release, as well, which basically doubled the price of the components. I’ve almost finished crafting my ascended longbow next.

I feel like I’m missing some big’uns, and I guess that’ll have to do for now. It’s certainly been a big year in terms of life-style changes. Next year holds the wedding, the honeymoon and a new mental health project I’m part of leading back towards full-time working hours. It’s going to be another big year I’m sure, though I’ll take it one breath at a time. Thanks for your support this year everybody. Here’s to 2015.

My 2001 Diary

After reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (an excellent and highly recommended read), I started going through my childhood diaries as part of the process of de-cluttering and letting go. I decided that I’d summarise each year of my life and then get rid of the diary itself, because I’m not that person any more, and I don’t think it’s particularly useful to hang on to a meticulously recorded list of things I did every day when I was 10-years-old. Rather, here are the parts of my diary which I think are interesting or insightful or just darn cute enough to preserve.

 

  • I treated my diary like a person, the imaginary little sister, the best friend or the girlfriend that I always wished I had. I went through a couple of different names for her: “Dear Diary/Sarah/Jessica/Ivy”.
  • I was a seriously hardcore gamer. I played games every single day, mainly Pokémon, Super Smash Bros., Perfect Dark, Mario Party and Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. I would play these for 3-10 hours a day, depending on whether I had to go to school. I can see now why I feel an urge to game if I haven’t played anything in a couple of days.
  • When Pokémon 2000 came out, I watched it every day for weeks. This is, undoubtedly, what led my brother and I to create an elaborate ritual where we would burn coloured candles outside representing the legendary birds in order to honour our collectible Mew card, which we buried in a waterproof box.
  • I re-read Harry Potter several times over, and created my first ever email account: Hermione4eva@hotmail.com.
  • I could jump down 8 steps.
  • My brother and I were really big on a made-up language called Gobbledegook or Gobbledegik. It was just a bizarre code, where words like “Age of Empires” would become “Ludderudgy Lumpy”.
  • My relationship with Eugene was one of admiration, hurt and betrayal. He was so clever, and so controlling.
  • Everything was very dramatic. I had a lot of arch enemies and a lot of people who I would have died for, and not much in between.
  • I had friends who were trees, my favourite of which was named Sapo. I wrote about the time I tried to heal him by stuffing a hole in his trunk with these weird little onions that grew in our school.
  • I tentatively started exploring my sexuality, and I was very embarrassed about it. I didn’t record any details, but I was very conflicted about whether it was sinful or not.
  • It was the first year we had a computer, I think, and I started using internet terms like “lol”.
  • I founded the Dark Knites, a spy club which was really quite poor at espionage.
  • Apart from gaming, if there was one thing I was obsessed with as a 10-year-old it was keeping strict records of who among my friends liked whom. Most of my diary was addressed to my crush, Jessica, and I spent months agonising over whether my love for her was true, and whether she loved me. The final verdict is that we dated for 10 minutes, exchanged “secrets” (which I’ve long forgotten), and then Jessica expressed that she no longer felt the same way about me. (I have since come to learn that she was just humouring me, but when it got serious she let me down gently.)

Ahh the heady days of youth.