29 March 2011

Seeing Hawks Makes Me Run Faster

Elizabeth Clausen, Hawk Goddess
Last week was one hell of a week, and this past weekend was no better. Things will, after today, finally be a little slower…but only briefly. I have two assignments due Wednesday morning, and then I STILL need to get fitted for, order, and pick up my new uniforms for after graduation (in addition to far too many other errands). It seems like as soon as I get a breather, there’s another random thing that pops up and has to be taken care of immediately or the sun is going to prematurely explode and the death of our solar system will be just another stain on my hands. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you know how much I love a good (and sometimes, really crappy) hyperbole.

Regardless, after this afternoon, I was one major step closer to the end as the last non-academic opportunity for me to delay my graduation was met with triumph: I smoked my APFT. For you non-military types, APFT stands for Army Physical Fitness Test, and it basically amounts to how many pushups you can do in two minutes, how many situps you can do in two minutes, and then how quickly you can run two miles. It’s not particularly difficult, nor is it—in my and many other’s humble and less than humble opinions—an accurate, relevant test of the kind of fitness required to be a good soldier. However, until the Army determines how exactly it will score the new test proposal, it’s what we have to work with, and it’s what we’ve worked with for years. Since I am, at 22, apparently already past my physical prime (and what a sad thought that is), it’s easier for me to pass than it was a year ago but harder to get the maximum score. Regardless, I managed to do better on the test than I have in two years, scoring an overall 293. I exceeded the maximum score in both the pushups and the run, but missed a perfect 300 by five measly situps. That said, many cadets get above and beyond a 300 every time they take the test. However, it’s difficult to find enough time here to work out consistently, especially during the winter months when it’s so cold outside. I can’t run for more than 15 minutes on a treadmill without wanting to gauge my eyes out, so winter running doesn’t really happen for me. I’m swimming twice a week, and one of these days I’ll fit in more yoga, and I’ll probably go for a long run this Saturday to loosen out my legs and continue the process of getting back up to speed.

Even though the run was only two miles long, and even though it was windy and cold and my legs were sore from trekking all over the woods in the snow and debris with 30+ pounds of gear on Saturday, I felt strong, empowered, and at peace during that portion of the APFT today. One of my best friends was in the same run group with me, along with two other girls I knew fairly well, and a handful of close male companions as well. I had seen about five or six hawks on my way down to the track, so naturally my head started to drift towards my Huntress Goddess and how, last October, mid-race the sight of a hawk soaring over head brought new energy to my legs and new breath to my lungs. The same, I believe, happened today. Diana ran with me today.

I love being Pagan.

22 March 2011

Sing To The Moon

Was it my love for the moon that inspired my childhood
love for Sailor Moon, or was it the other way around?
Picture of the heroine of that lovely show from here.
One of Fire Lyte’s recent posts about the love-hate relationship between Pagans and the Pagan Music sphere got me thinking about my own rather sparse collection. I happen to enjoy almost all music, with the exception of rap that is demeaning to my gender (so, pretty much all of that genre) and depressing country with too much twang. Of course, there is also the exception of such artists as Rebecca Black who are 14 years old and have no business being famous nor singing about “partying, partying, yeah!” on a song very creatively titled as “Friday.” Why in the nine hells that music video has gone viral on YouTube and Facebook, I will never understand. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself blessed. My ears—and eyes—were bleeding as a result of seeing pimply preteens (who can’t at all sing, I might add) going clubbing and driving convertibles. What has the world come to? Maybe Betelgeuse should just hurry up and go supernova already and, if we’re lucky, the cosmic rays will cause the music industry to implode and we the human society can start producing REAL music again. Ok, I’m done ranting. Now back to my thoughts on Pagan music specifically.

I happen to own a few album and some change worth of songs by Damh the Bard, and if you’ve ever scrolled down the sidebars of my blog, you’ll see I also enjoy listening to his podcast (Druidcast). I have an album by Libana, a few songs by such artists as Gaia Consort, Laura Powers, SJ Tucker, and Wendy Rule. While I’m not sure of Midlake’s spiritual preferences (I discuss this in a previous entry here), their music is a perfect precursor to ritual, especially anything involving a deepening of one’s relationship with the natural world. Midlake’s lyrics paint absolutely beautiful imagery of the forest and all the paths that there intertwine. Similarly, I’m not sure what Loreena McKennitt would call herself, but I own three fabulous CDs with her gorgeous voice and eerie, worldly melodies that just make me itch to do something magical. Enya, too. I also happen to maintain a mild obsession for Celtic and Celtic-crossover music, in addition to my more overtly Pagan music and somewhat Paganish New Age. In fact, I’ve even employed some soundtracks (Lord of the Rings makes an excellent one, as does Pirates of the Caribbean and, believe it or not, Titanic) to put me in the mood before some rituals.

And, as many of you know, my love for music includes composition and lyric-writing. I’m still trying to figure out how to upload my songs to add to a page here, in case anyone wants to listen to what I’ve recorded, but for now some of my lyrical compositions can at least be read. I’ve often talked about how music can be as much a magical practice as any spellworking, and growing up Catholic in the middle of a very Baptist Bible Belt taught me that music can be as much worship as it is entertainment. Music is background noise, mood setting, distraction, calming, uplifting, depressing, violent, sexy. Like the many faces of Baba Yaga, it can be hideous or beautiful at will (and, sometimes, against the will of the musician or the listeners).

The other night, when the full moon was at the largest I’ll ever see it, I stood outside. I had worn a flowy, ivory dress to a cocktail party earlier that evening with family, friends, candidates, old grads, heroes, and politicians. However, in the cool spring night, with the full face of Luna peering between the just-starting-to-bud-green treetops, that ivory cocktail dress made me feel more like a child of the Goddess than I ever have. The glass or two of chardonnay might have contributed, too, but that’s beside the point. I felt like a priestess, a princess, a Mayan sacrifice, and like my old warrior badass self all wrapped up into one, and I knew my deities were smiling.

And, then, I sang.

I sang quietly, not wanting to compete with the Coyotes howling in the distance—likely at the same moon to which I was singing then—nor did I want to attract the attention of the less-than-friendly neighborhood black bear, nor did I want to wake my brother sleeping upstairs, even though his room was far away. Nevertheless, I sang, and what I sang felt so right at that moment to be singing, even though I have always been a coven-less solitary and have never danced with Sisters nor attended a big festival. I sang a capello S. J. Tucker’s folksy rendition of “Witch’s Rune,” which is the version I know best. The opening lines of the song, I think, are what inspired me to sing that particular song to Selene, Luna, Diana, Artemis that night: “Darksome night and shining moon, balance of the dark and light.”

Once again, I am reminded—this time, courtesy Pagan music—of how all things must balance, finding first contrast and, maybe one day, harmony.

21 March 2011

Running Off The Lethargy

The last time I drew anything
worthwhile, it was on the side
of some of my class notes.
I made a few sketches for paintings this break, nothing spectacular, but then I couldn’t find any of my acrylics. Thus, no artwork made it through to completion. My paints were getting towards the old and crusty side anyway, so perhaps it’s for the best that I could not find them, as I now have an excuse to go out and buy new ones. (Like I ever need an excuse to go out and buy anything, compulsive shopper that I am.) Anyway, the ending of another break leaves me once again with the dread feeling of “I never get enough time home and why oh why did I sign away my life to serve.” And then I remember, oh yeah, because I want to make a difference in the world, and if not me, then who? I follow my calling, no matter the sacrifice.

However, I have not been living up to my calling, and so I have a confession to make: I’ve been a little lazy lately.

Actually, that’s quite an understatement. I’ve been a LOT lazy lately and in all areas of my life. Physically, I’ve been slacking on my workouts and eating too much junk food because it’s convenient and accessible. Mentally, I’ve been doing just barely enough to get by in my classes, procrastinating on papers, not studying at all, and actually turned in an assignment late. I’ve never turned in something graded late before. I did not like the feeling, not even one bit. Spiritually, I’ve been vaguely paying attention to the cycles of the Earth, but it’s only the presence of the Hawks overhead and the Crows in the backyard that reminded me I am, always, watched. I forget sometimes, lost in my daydreams and fantasies, that my Mother the Earth is always with me. Now, just being conscious of my gods and goddesses as I write this, I feel them all nodding and moving closer to me. I am not alone, at least not really. Regardless, I know I’ve been neglecting my spiritual duties far more than I’d like.

So here’s what I did to start the long, slow process of fixing this. I jotted down some lyrics about running off my lethargy, and then I ran blisters into my feet and the breath out of my lungs. Considering how badly I’ve been slacking in my workouts, running breathless was far easier (or, perhaps, I should say far more difficult) than my ideal. I really, really, REALLY need to get back in shape. I only have a verse and a chorus done for a song that will likely remain unfinished, and in case I never get around to at least adding a second verse or a bridge or something, I’ll post the work-in-progress below. It’s a little depressing in the way that all of my songs tend to be a little depressing, but the attitude is there nonetheless. Of course, by “the attitude,” I mean *my* attitude. You’ll see it.

The end is in sight;
I’m so close to the finish line,
So why do I want to slow the hands of time?
I should be flying,
A sprint full-speed-ahead,
But all I can do is dream of you
As I lie here in bed.
I’m so sick of being tired all of the time,
And I’m so bored of wanting what’s never mine.

So get thee gone, I’m done, I’m done
Waiting around for you.
This lethargy I’ll shake from me,
And do what I need to do
You won’t hold me back now, no.
I have got my path to follow,
And I’ll walk it alone.
Yeah, I’ve always known that I’ll end up alone.

16 March 2011

Title Needed...Please Comment With A Suggestion.

Can you make your eyes a little less bright?
As for your smile, can you dim the light?
Because it's hard for me not to be so drawn to you.
Can you try to smell a little less fine?
When you talk to me, be a little less kind.
Because I'm trying to finally get over you.

And it's harder than you'd think
To ignore someone like you;
I see your halo shining across a crowded room.

Hey, hey, Stargazer, take your eyes off of the sky
And see me standing, right in front of you.
Hey, hey, Stargazer, turn off all the lights
And let me show you what I'd love to do to you.

Can you try to walk a little while in my shoes
And feel what it's like to be with you?
Because then you'd see why no one else will do.

And it's harder than it looks
To ignore a man like you;
You're a breath of fresh air in a smoke-filled gloom.

Hey, hey, Stargazer, take your eyes off of the sky
And see me standing, right in front of you.
Hey, hey, Stargazer, let's turn off all the lights
And then I'll show you what I'd love to do for you.

But I won't wait forever, no
By the time you wake up, I might have moved on.
For your sake I hope that isn't so,
But at this rate, you just may take too long.
And then I'm gone.

14 March 2011

Home Again. Need this.

Lovey photo of the city near where I grew up from here
I'm finally home! It was a long drive, but I had Littlest Brother riding shotgun to keep me company as I blasted my entire collection of Mae, Anberlin, Taking Back Sunday, and T.A.T.U. music (did I mention I have every song any of them have ever produced? When I like a band, I REALLY like a band). The whole trip, breakfast, lunch, and gas breaks included, took a little over nine hours. I could have probably made the trip faster by myself, especially considering I don't eat that much on road trips, but we took too cars and my parents insisted on staying together. Thus, I did not make as good of time as I would have liked, but in return my mom kept jumping out of the car and paying for gas before I had time to get my own card out. I suppose you have to find little ways to still "support" your children when they have been living away for four years and you don't even pay tuition bills.

Did I mention I get paid to go to college? It's a pretty nice deal, except for the part where in return, the government owns my body for the next eight years. I think I also may have failed to mention that I got Uncle Sam to pay for my grad school, but he gets an extra three years for that instead of the standard five and fly. As the current plan is to stay career military, unless I catch a whim to go pursue politics and see how far an uncorrupt non-pawnlike idealist with multiple tattoos and a few piercings would get once *my* generation is in charge of things. I'd like to think we'll be more open-minded and tolerant and in general, create a better world…but I'm sure the flower children thought that, too.

I picked up Achilles, our ginormous and ever-slobbering Greater Swiss Mountain dog up this morning. Since the 'rents were in New York visiting my brother and me for the weekend, and since now Little Brother (note: not Littlest) is in Canada skiing for the rest of the week, and both mama and papa had to go work today, reuniting Achilles with her home fell to me. Littlest Brother cannot, and likely never will, drive due to his epilepsy and autism. Thus, my beater car, affectionately known as the P.O.S.-Rocket by Little Brother and I, is covered in slime and fur and smells terrible.

Regardless, I'm home in the beautiful state of Virginia, and that is worth all the dog slime in the world. Now it's time for a nice, long run to take my mind off of everything, and then I'm going to grab some sushi with my dad for lunch.

10 March 2011

My Name Is Selene

Endymion and Selene by Victor Florence-Pollett
I always felt bad for Selene, to be in love with a man
who can never truly love her back. It sucks.
“Time casts its spell on you, but you won't forget me.
I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me.
I'll follow you down 'til the sound of my voice will haunt you.
You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.”
~ Fleetwood Mac, “Silver Spring”

As you may have been able to tell, I’ve had a falling out of sorts recently. And by recently, I mean it’s been a very slow, grueling emotional decay from really good friendship to more or less bitter arguing about nothing important over the course of several months. And, now, it’s finally reached a climactic low. So. Yesterday afternoon, I wrote the letter just to find a place where I could pour out all of my pent up energy and emotions that I haven’t been able to express for various reasons. Then last night, because of course he had not read my letter (nor would I really want him to right away; I feel we both need a little distance first), we ended up fighting again. And by fighting, I mean I tried to talk to him, and he basically told me to shut up and leave him alone because he’s tired of being bothered.

I *bother* him maybe once every few days, and he’s always told me that I don’t bother him when I talk to him, but whatever. At this point, it’s not a big deal.

Regardless, I’m going to do now what I always do whenever I get my heart crushed: write lots of songs and paint lots of pictures. Like many creative souls, I find that angst is the most productive muse. I will use this pain to make something worthwhile, whether it’s a nostalgic ballad or an angry painting or all the variations in between, something beautiful will come out of this experience. And then, once I’ve poured all my melancholy into my poetry and music and art, I’ll feel better. It will all be outside of me, and then, finally, I’ll be able to move on and let go. Naturally, any artistic and lyrical products of this angst shall be posted here for the judgment of you, my wonderful readers. Who are mostly my friends and family, haha.
That’s one of the great things about being a multi-purpose artist. I may have a lot of emotions, always boiling under the surface for bad or good, but I have as many constructive outlets for those emotions when need be. Focusing negative energy into something positive is a wonderful way of releasing it in a harmless manner. Ok, mostly harmless. The subjects of song lyrics might get their feelings a little miffed if ever, for some reason, my music becomes popular and public (considering I don’t publicize it, play mostly covers whenever I perform, am not in the habit of sending song lyrics to the people I wrote them about, and I’ve made zero attempts of putting my music in the hands of anyone with a foot in the agency…my sudden rise to stardom seems a highly unlikely scenario).

Thus, I will leave you with the song that has been helping me get through this right now, until I can find the time to sit down and pour out my own version. I stumbled across one of my favorite bands, Eisley, performing one of my favorite covers, “Silver Spring” by Fleetwood Mac, and posted it to my Facebook page. Since it has grown yet nearer and dearer to my heart since, I thought I would share it here as well. Enjoy Stacy DuPree’s beautiful voice singing out all the melancholy in the world. There’s definitely something magical about music.

09 March 2011

A Letter That Will Likely Remain Unread

Dear Stargazer,

First and foremost, I know you’ll either never read this, or if you do, it won’t be for months after I’ve written it. As you’ve told me upon more than one occasion, you hardly have any time to spend with me, let alone keep track of my blog entries. As far as I know, you still haven’t read the ones from December and earlier that apply, at least in part, to you. After all, you were the primary inspiration behind my (still) most popular post. Nevertheless, I’ll likely be long gone by the time your eyes cross this entry, if ever they do. I’ll have long since walked out of your life and into my own, moving on to Missouri and then Texas and then after that, wherever the wind takes me. Thus, I am writing this more for myself than for you, although if you do find yourself reading this one day, I would like to know, no matter how far in the distant future it is or how long it’s been since we last spoke. I don’t want my words to disappear into the cold, meaningless void of internet ramblings that no one really reads or remembers. Whatever happens, I hope that my words do eventually find their way to you.

I will miss so much about you after I leave, but more than anything else, I’ll miss our friendship. We rarely speak now as it is, although you assure me everything is fine. I remember when I first met you at breakfast. Immediately your bright smile, your happy glow, caught my attention. Wherever you were, you lit up the whole room. Of course I was drawn to you. Of course I started talking to you. Of course I fell for you; how could I not? You were, and still are, so sweet and caring and dedicated and disciplined and kind and smart and funny and all of the other thousand qualities I admire in a soul. I don’t think you truly understand how amazing of an individual you are. We may have only met this past August, but from the very beginning we became close despite your insistence that you simply don’t let people in. We talked to each other nonstop: joking, laughing, wondering what we’d do if we found out the world was ending and there was no way we could stop it and no one would believe us.

I still remember your answer to that question. It was so sweet, it almost made me cry. Do you remember mine?

I’ve gathered so many fond memories of times spent with you, that when I look back on this year, I know I’ll smile. The good far outweigh the bad, and I wouldn’t trade any of the accompanying pain for the numbness that filled me before I knew you. You taught me how to feel again. I don’t think you ever knew that part, how empty I had become before I started talking to you. I remember the first time you left for the weekend to watch your sister get married, and you texted me that you missed me. The time we stayed up until three in the morning just talking about nothing and everything, until suddenly you laced your fingers through mine and marveled that such delicate hands could paint so many beautiful things. I think I melted, right then and there. The time we were sitting on the roof in the middle of the night, tracing the constellations and shivering in the cold despite our winter coats. That night is why I will always think of you as my Stargazer. The time I left for my cousin’s wedding, and you told me, “I wish you were here,” and when I replied that the weekend would be over soon, you added, “Not soon enough.” The million times we’ve kissed. Could you tell how badly I wanted each to never end?

We have 72 days left, and then I’m gone. I legitimately might never see you again. I know there’s a chance that you might post where I am, but by then I will likely already be deployed. The chances after that are slim to none. We want similar life paths, but that in itself is enough to send us in completely different directions. There’s an entire world out there for us to get lost in and stay separated. I would love for you to wander back into my life in a few years, when you’re ready for more than friends who like to cuddle, but I know how small of a probability that is. We live so near each other already and still barely converse, so how likely is it, really, that you’ll talk to me after I graduate or come visit me in Texas? Never mind the fact that I’ll be living only a few hours from your hometown, and that for the rest of our lives, you’ll have an open invitation to crash at my place. Even if you’re just passing through for a night, and I’m not even home. Even if we haven’t spoken in years but by some miracle, you kept my number.

I do hope we keep in contact and see each other now and then. I want to remain a part of your life, however geographically distant we may become. I enjoy talking to you far too much to let you get away with silence for long, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Until we part, however, I hope we can make the most of the days (and nights) we have remaining to us. There are plenty of more good memories we can create to drown out the lingering bad taste of a few fights. Let’s get on with that, shall we? I’m not ready yet to let you go.

And still, you don’t let me in anymore. There’s so much I’ve been wanting to tell you, about where my life is headed, about what I’ve been doing lately, about who I really am inside. I never got the chance, and now it seems almost too late. I wish you would let me in again, let me talk to you like we did last semester. You don’t tell me what’s bothering you, although I can see there’s a sadness brewing behind your eyes, some heaviness hiding there and dimming, however slightly, your otherwise bright smile. I want to wrap my arms around you and make you as happy as you were when we first met, to heal you the way you—without even realizing it—healed me. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m going to try.

When you want to, you’ll know where to find me.


06 March 2011

When Will The Winter End?

Gorgeous hunting hawk photo from here.
See that fish? Yeah. That will never be me.
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been feeling a little restless lately. The winter is getting to me, and the slow thaw is starting to stir my imagination with the promise of warmer weather to come. The prospect of spring—or rather, the day or two that will pass for spring once all the snow melts, and then suddenly it’ll be 90 degrees and humid as hell and we’ll start wondering why it’s summer already—has me itching to be more active. I’ve been staving off the restlessness by reading more (currently: The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip) and going out in the evenings with my friends, just to blow off some steam. Dancing in a club, with all of the wistful youths on the prowl for victims partners, seems oddly reminiscent to me of a hunt. I’m glad that, despite what those youths may initially think, I do not end up their prey. In keeping with my two favorite activities in social situations, to which my girlies will attest, I’m all about intimidating and rejecting men. I’m cute. I’m flashy. I like wearing things that sparkle. Thus, I tend to get a lot of attention. And what do I do with it? Send them packing.

Everything is a game, and I’m pretty sure I don’t play by the normal rules. I refuse to be any man’s prey, in a bar/club or otherwise. When I go out with my girls, I go out to be with my girls, not to be hit on or picked up or bothered or molested or…you get the picture. When I want to dance, I just want to dance, and usually by myself. Occasionally if we bring some of our guy friends along with us, I’ll make my token rounds with them, but a stranger? Don’t waste your time. I’ll give you the same line I give almost everyone: Sorry, thanks for the offer, but I dance alone. The words between those lines are more akin to don’t care, get lost, you’re not taking me home tonight. I will not be your victim.

In a somewhat related vein, one of my friends posted this video to her facebook page the other day, and being in a rather huntress-feeling mood already and then seeing the title, naturally I watched it. It’s a fascinating segment, and reminded me of the primeval roots we all share. Beyond that, I’ll let the video speak for itself:

02 March 2011

Just A Boring Rambling.

Just a quick update:

I passed my combatives final!!!

I’m not sure what kind of grade I earned, but I know the instructor gave me at least one bonus point for leading in with a strike instead of just blocking…and then he told me I needed to hit harder, which didn’t surprise me considering I don’t hit all that hard. (That’s why I liked the grappling portion better, since I could rely on actual techniques to be effective, instead of just trying to hit harder and faster than the other person.) I suppose they’ll tell us our grades eventually, but at least I know I passed, and therefore don’t have to take the course again. Graduation requirements are now one step closer to being met, so I am one step closer to being happy. And free.

Well, sorta. One step closer to being relatively free for two months before I have to go to Missouri and then, finally, nestle myself into Texas. At least I have those two months of freedom to look forward to, however. I plan on getting another two tattoos, a third piercing in each ear, my right cartilage pierced, and then perhaps an eyebrow piercing as well. I plan on getting everything the day after graduation so they have maximum time to heal before I have to take everything out and pretend to be normal, but it might be three or four days after instead. We’ll see. It all depends on what my former roommate and BFF (I’ll probably mention her again, so we’ll name her Aurora for blogging purposes) will let me get away with before she gets married to her fiancĂ©. I’m one of the bridesmaids, and I’m not too sure Aurora will like my having a fresh tat on my right ankle proclaiming my bellatrix-ness as I march with one of the groomsmen down the aisle, and I’m not sure if she’d approve of the eyebrow ring. It might clash with the pale yellow bridesmaid’s dress. So…worst case scenario, my new body art will have to wait a few days.

That’s all I have time for now, but I’ll try to think of something *meaningful* to blog about later today or tomorrow.

01 March 2011

Good, Old-fashioned Competition

"Timberland Wolves Fighting For Food" by Gilbert Laurin
As I’ve mentioned before, I have an interesting—and perhaps rather lenient—take on what I consider my “practice.” Since the deities whom I have chosen to follow more closely, and who seem to have chosen to accept me in such a role, are so tied to physically competitive activities, I consider such activities a form of deepening my relationship with my deities. For example, running outside always makes me feel closer to Diana, and I’ve felt her presence on my longer runs beneath the trees in summer. Similarly, my military exercises leave the Morrighan whispering in my ear.

The ultimate physical competition is, in my likely very biased opinion, the fight. The struggle for dominance is the root of the natural world: the competition between predator and prey, the competition for a mate, the competition for resources. Humanity is not unique in this constant competition, nor are we an exception to it. I can see the appeal of a utopian society in which resources are shared, and everyone gets along, holding hands while they plant and harvest and sing Kumbaya. However, it would be as much an unnatural society as an unrealistic one.

One of the graduation requirements here is to pass a course in combatives. The first half of the course was pretty fun, if also perpetually awkward (grappling tends to be that way, especially in coed environments), and now I just have on lesson left before I’m done. I’m looking forward to having that block of time free to be lazy and sleep, or more likely to read and write and draw and paint and, perhaps, go for a run when the weather gets nice. However, I’ve enjoyed the course as both an intellectual activity—fighting is a lot of head games and keeping the right mentality—and as a physical test. We finished grappling nine or so lessons ago, and we’ve been working on striking since. I have not enjoyed the striking portion as much as the grappling, mainly because when striking is involved, it becomes less about skill and more about who can hit harder. Considering I’m one of the smaller females in the section to begin with, and like I said, it’s a coed class, I’m usually not the one who hits harder. In fact, the striking portion has mostly been a test of how quickly I can block a punch to the face. So far I’ve only been hit twice with full force, so I consider that a success. Even when we were just grappling, my speed was one of my main advantages (and, now, it’s arguably my only advantage).

Thus, the course ending is bittersweet. There’s still a chance I could fail—if, say, I get knocked unconscious midway through my last fight tomorrow morning and can’t complete it—and have to take the entire course over again starting Friday. I’m fairly confident that will not be the case, but I’ll just go ahead and knock on my wooden desk anyway. It’s been fun, but I don’t want to do it again just yet. Kinda like when I went to survival school. I had a blast traipsing around the woods, evading capture and eating grasshoppers, sleeping in rock piles…but it’s something I hope I never have to do again, at least not without weapons. The school took place on a nature reserve, so we were prohibited from catching any animals or picking any plants. If I’m going to survive in the woods for real, I want to be able to eat something more substantial than creepy crawlies. I don’t care how much pound-for-pound protein they have. They’re still gross.

Happy hunting.