Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting pumped for Taiwan...

So, I had a dream the other night that I was on a bus going to the temple. It was packed, and it was on a dirt road so it was really bumpy. Everyone was talking in Chinese and English, and there was a chicken on the bus too. I guess that's some weird stereotype of the Chinese public transportation system. Everything made me really excited to be going. Then I saw my ex-girlfriend on the bus, which was really weird. The dream ended, but the feeling carried over.

Current pre-departure emotions: Excited, with a slight chance of nervousness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


So, i went golfing with my dad today. My grandpa, who just moved to a rest home in Salt Lake, tagged along for the ride. It was really hilly so the golfcart ride was hella fun. I think I may have scared my grandpa a little bit. Highlights include: hitting the ball straight a number of times, and this really cute girl who was working there, who I should have stopped to flirt with.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Aiki Summer Camp

So, back in the day, summer camp was really fun, right? Hanging out with people your own age for a couple of days, making mischief, learning new stuff. Lots of fun, but like many fun things, must pass away with childhood.

Psych! Not with Aikido! It's even better because this time around, alcohol is allowed!

A week in California doing Aikido, meeting new people, and having a generally great time is basically the best vacation I could think of. I left Utah with two other guys, Nick and Nate, from the dojo here in Utah. We didn't know each other that well before, in fact, I thought that Nick didn't like me much, but we loaded up his hatchback with Aikido crap and headed for Reno last saturday. There, we camped out at a Motel 6, and met two other people from Utah Aikikai who were also driving. We at at one of those ridiculously large casino-buffet restaurants which serve every kind of food, every nationality, and like sixteen different desserts. Then we went gambling. I lost about ten bucks. Five on a single hand of blackjack, and the other five split between DDR and the slot machines.

We went back to the hotel after that and bought a six-pack, and a bottle of Baileys to play cards with. There were five of us, so our original plan to play spades didn't work, since noone except me remembered how to play spades anyway. So instead, I taught everyone the game shithead. Apparently, everyone really liked the game, because we played at least four games every single night during the week.

The next day, Sunday, we got to California and checked into our dorm rooms about mid-day. I was supposed to have a roommate, but he (Ernie) didn't show up until about Tuesday, and turned out to be splitting his time with some other guy. So, that was a little akward dealing with them. Otherwise, our accommodations were pretty decent. It was hosted at a college, which was nice because everyone lived together, and everything was really close.

There were four main teachers at this seminar. I had seen Ikeda Sensei and Heiny Sensei before at Oberlin and elsewhere, but I had never seen Nadeau Sensei or Doran Sensei before, who are more in the west coast Aikido circles.

I think my most memorable training experiences from this camp were in Heiny Sensei's classes. Partly because I knew her best, but partly because, despite being an older woman, generally had the most vigorous classes. I took some ukemi for her (read: was called up to attack her, and be on the receiving end of the technique) on the first day, and it was really awesome. She really sent me flying, and so I think it made people impressed with her ability, but I also got a lot of compliments for my own skill at ukemi. I work on that a lot in Aikido, so it was nice that people took notice, and consequentially I got to work with a bunch of higher ranking people who may not have trained with me otherwise.

I got to work with a lot of really remarkable women at the seminar. I spent one morning class with Doran sensei working with Yukiko Hara, who is a really funny Japanese woman. Also a sixth degree black belt, so she kicked my butt pretty good. Another time during class I worked with this woman named Jane, and we just did a bunch of stuff from the same attack for like twenty minutes and it was awesome. We were able to really get to know each other's Aikido, and on top of that, I think that Ikeda sensei was watching us go at it from the sidelines, which was kind of cool. Later in the week, I worked with one woman who, after we were done, said "that was yummy." Kinda weird. Kinda funny. Kinda kinky. Of all the people I trained with, the women at the camp really stick out.

Other memorable experiences on the mat include my first taste of responsibility for being a black belt. I was working with a beginner, and was reprimanded by one of the senior instructors, Nadeau Sensei for giving the beginner a weak attack which didn't have anything real to work with. He said that as "a belt" I was responsible for helping students that I am working with find good technique. He then proceeded to throw me on the floor, really hard, and I still have a bruise from it.

I had heard mixed reviews of Nadeau Sensei. My friend James and his dad, the head of the dojo in Salt Lake had given me the impression that he was a little wordy and really into the spiritual/philosophical/non-physical side of aikido, which usually raises an eyebrow for me too. The first class, I strongly disagreed with half of what he said about, and the other half I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. So that kinda pissed me off but in the second class I realized that if i didn't really pay too close attention to what he was saying, he was actually doing good aikido. I got to come up in front of the class and work with him a couple of times. He gave me good advice, but I still get the impression that he doesn't like me. I mean, that happens with high status aikido people sometimes when you first meet them. They're like "who is this fucker who thinks he's hot shit," which is meant to knock you (i mean, me, of course) down a couple pegs, and then after like fifteen years they may deem you worthy to touch them.

I guess the only other instructor I haven't really talked about is Ikeda sensei. He does this amazing stuff where he will tell a 250 lb. guy to "be strong, don't move, don't take ukemi (trans: don't fall for me), stay there." Then, he'll drop him on the mat without doing anything visible. It's pretty crazy. In fact he'll usually say "isn't that weird?" in a Japanese accent after he does some completely crazy shit that shouldn't work by most accounts, but does for some reason. And then he asks us all to do the same thing, and like, nobody can do it consistently, which is really frustrating, but is at least really challenging. I've seen him do this stuff for four years now, and I still cant do it to save my life. But, I was able to do it at least better, if not perfectly, this time around than I had a month ago.

Finally, I'd like to report on my findings on the 31st annual symposium of aikido and alcohol consumption. As is usual with aikido, there is just as much learning that goes on off the mat as does on the mat. I met about 100 new people last week, and of course, I remember the names of maybe 20 of them. There was sort of a clique of young people that formed, which I hung out with most nights, but actually talking with some of the people who'd been around for like 20 years was really rewarding. You really get to know the history of the organization, of Aikido. And the people who've been around the block a few times tend to have bigger perspective to draw from when they talk about Aikido.

I was talking with this one guy about the pseudo-parental relationship that you form with your teacher, and how that helped him resolve issues he had with his parents. I actually had a similar experience one time when I was getting ready to attack the guy who teaches at Oberlin. I was staring at him intending to do him harm, when I realized that he looks a lot like my dad. I think that realization helped me with my issues with my dad a little, just like the guy at camp.

But, most of my time outside of class was spent hanging out with people from the Utah dojo, and a couple other younger people who were there. We had good times getting crunk, shooting each other with airsoft guns, playing shithead, and staying up late. I goatsed one guy which earned me the nickname "gaping tom." aww, who would I be without all my nicknames? Anway, it was a great week, and one of the best experiences in Aikido I've ever had. I hope to return... someday.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Job, the Saga

This morning I called the Detroit consulate's office back to see if anything had changed with my JET Application. Well, I was expecting bad news, but it's actually mediocre news. I'm now at the top of the wait list, but I'm still waiting. It could be anytime now, and he seems to think my chances are pretty good, but the waiting is the hardest part. (If you're wondering, John, that song is by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) Now I have to debate whether to sink my time into preparing for the GRE, or applying for other jobs.

Anyway, I guess that was sort of good news, but there' s still no resolution to this job search bs, but the end may be in sight...

What I really wanted to do was actually write down everything that happened pertaining to my job over the past year, the whole story, for posterity. Just to let it all out one last time.

I first heard about Lost Highway in the Spring of 2006, and was interested in the project, because it seemed like a good opportunity to put my sound engineering to good use. By the time fall rolled around, Concert Sound had informally agreed to do it, but none of the details for the gig were set.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The first real post

So, being home has been real weird. I feel like my family and everyone I meet here treats me like the person I was four years ago, before I even went to college. Granted, I probably haven't changed as much as I like to think I have, but I just wish I could just start from scratch with everyone back here in Utah, and meet everyone for the first time again. I don't want to "pick up where we left off" because no one is the same as they were four years ago. People change, that's life.

Last monday, after commencement, my dad and I went out to eat at the Feve. Our relationship has been well, not great, most of my life and I wanted to smooth things over with him and "start from scratch." Say sorry for being a jerk when I was a teenager, and admit that my mother is actually crazier than I thought she was. Well, that all didn't happen like I planned. Instead I started giving him the rundown on the job fiasco and my plans for the future. I told him that my interview didn't go as well as I thought because I didn't appear as outgoing as they were looking for. In response, he told me that he thought it was because I was "not very serious" and too "lackadaisical about things.

At that point, I was like "does this man know me?" I can see how that may have applied to the way I acted when I was in high school, but in my mind, I can't even picture myself as that person anymore, yet my father still thinks of me that way.

Same thing happened on sunday. My mom threw a party at our house to celebrate my brother's and my graduations. (is "my brother's and my" proper english?) It's actually pretty lame, because it's all my mom's friends and I know I'll just spend the entire night explaining how I don't have a job yet. The unforseen perk of the event is that a few of them brought donations to the "Tommy Newhall post-graduate fund."

I requested beverage duty, and was charged with the task of beer buying. Now, there are supposed to be twenty people coming to this party, but I already know maybe only one or two people are going to be drinking. So I buy four six packs anticipating that this was probably the only opportunity for me to buy beer with my mom's money, and knowing there would be plentiful leftovers to last me through the month.

So, I'm at the party and trying my best to seem social, but not actually talk with many people, and so I go outside to get another beer. A few people are out on our patio talking and one of them comments sarcastically that "You are not old enough to be drinking beer!" I guess it was a joke, sort of, but is just another instance of someone thinking of me as same person I was four years ago. Not only underage, but too innocent to imbibe that devil drink that few of the people at the party are even willing to try. Fortunately I had a pseudo-comeback to her remark, simply saying "well, that is not true." I grabbed my beer, and quickly went back in the house, where the hors d'oeuvres were.

Man I gotta get out of this place.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

E-mail to Friends

Hey all-

so you caught me at a bad time yesterday because it was my bro's high school graduation. I swear to god it took longer than ours, but there was like 1/10th the students. The graduation speaker was wicked awful, but my brother was the class-elected speaker he did a good job.

Other than that, I've been sick since I got home. I've mostly been playing pokemon and explaining to people in about 15 different ways why I don't have a job yet and that I am going to a monastery in Taiwan. I've taken to just telling people my "plans" before they even ask, simply because it saves time. Also, my family is starting to get to me. What a surprise. I guess that's more incentive to stop playing video games and start looking for real jobs, but I'm saving that for monday.

Anyway, I thought a good way to keep in touch would be to start a blog. a couple of my friends did it when they graduated a few years ago, and i've ept up with their misadventures pretty well that way. So this, and other musings will go up on . I don't know for sure if RSS feeds are working yet for it, but I'll get it going in the next few days. Yeah, it'll be a good combo of actual life events and musings about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Right now, only one post, but of course, there's more to come.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

first post!

Welcome to my blog. This is actually the second blog I've written, the first being , which documented my days training Aikido and living in Tokyo in January 2006.

About me:
On monday, I graduated from college. In that former life, I was an East Asian Studies Major at Oberlin College. In that field, I studied Japanese as well as East Asian religion, especially Buddhism, and especially-especially, Zen Buddhism. My interest in East Asian Studies was piqued by Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, in which attained shodan (first-degree black belt) in at the beginning of last month.

On top of that, I was a sound engineer for my four years at Oberlin. My main experience comes from working as a live sound engineer at Oberlin, mixing concerts and events that came through. Bela Fleck, David Sedaris, Tibetan Gyuto Monks, Peaches, The Rapture, Supersystem, Xiu Xiu, Girl Talk, Nancy Dye, dancerockinfinity, Talib Kweli -- Mixed them all at Oberlin. Man what a sweet gig.

Anyway, this is sounding a little too much like a cover letter. And probably most people reading this already know me, but if you don't here's the rundown:
  • Oberlin College
  • Japan
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Aikido
  • Sound Engineering
  • Music
  • Video Games
  • Friends
  • Life after College
Keep reading, cause I'll keep writing.


First post - complete.